Conservative MP Julian Sturdy, chair for the APPG on Science and Technology in Agriculture, has called for Defra to publish material on the impact of its Environmental Land Management (ELM) and Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) policies to see evidence that their strategies are maintaining national food production levels.

He wrote in an article for Science for Sustainable Agriculture how the question he tabled for Parliament reiterates understanding the reasoning and impact behind their scheme, such as paying farmers not to use approved insecticides and limiting use to below-optimum productivity levels.

“I am concerned that the policy emphasis on lower-yield farming practices such as these will inevitably take its toll on our domestic food production capacity, and increase our dependence on imports,” he said. “I am equally concerned that other ELM policies which support the loss of productive farmland to ‘landscape-scale recovery’ schemes are not framed within a coherent land use strategy or with a clear vision of how national food production will be maintained.

Mr Sturdy noted that the response from Defra did not give mention of an impact assessment, or offer sources of evidence and data. “The government’s approach appears to be based on NGO-inspired greenwash and wishful thinking,” Mr Sturdy continued.