The Government have now released information regarding the transition from the current Basic Payment Scheme to the new post-Brexit policies and how the changes will be implemented.
The Government have issued more details of how the transition from the current EU Schemes to their post-Brexit policies. This will be done over 7 years starting in 2021 with the full transition looking to be completed by 2028.
The current information relates to the period from 2021 to 2024 and the full text can be found in their publication “The Path to Sustainable Farming: an agricultural transition plan 2021 to 2024” which can be found here
There is also a summary of the longer text which provides the main points of interest and this can be found here.
The main details to note are:
Following the simplification of the BPS rules announced earlier in the year by removing greening, the need to use entitlements at least once every 2 years, and removing the need for cross border farms between England, Scotland and Wales having to make 1 claim, further details of the transfer of part of the Basic Payment Scheme financial allocation to other Schemes has been given. The reductions proposed already for the 2021 Scheme will be further increased in each of the years to 2024, beyond which there is no detail although it is suggested that the reductions will be further increased annually so BPS ends completely by 2027.
It is intended to de-link payments in 2024 so the current need to have both entitlements and land in order to achieve payment would be removed. It is also intended that from 2022 lump sum payments will be offered to those wishing to retire from farming equivalent to the value of the remaining BPS payments up to and including 2027.
To help support farmers and agricultural resilience a Farm Resilience Scheme (FRS) will be set up in early 2021 to provide support for the initial part of the transition which will be augmented by a Farming Investment Fund relating to equipment and technology, and an Innovation, Research and Development Scheme along with a Slurry Investment Scheme and New Entrance Support Scheme. The Government wish to see a vibrant productive profitable and sustainable agricultural economy by 2028.
Much has been said of the proposed Environmental Schemes and whilst no detail has been unveiled, broad outlines of what is looked to be achieved have been drawn up with Pilots, Tests and Trials being undertaken which will then lead to the details of schemes being set out later in the transition period. We are told that those in existing schemes will not be disadvantaged and where appropriate will be able to move from an existing scheme to the new schemes.
Former DEFRA minister Michael Gove’s remit of farmers provide public goods in return for public money is upheld with the proposed Environmental Land Management Policies looking to support sustainable goals with focus on outcomes rather than the current prescriptive management requirements. We are told that payments will be financially viable and fair and would encourage a high level of participation which is required if the environmental objectives are to be achieved.
The Government says it wants to create a fair, clear and effective regulatory regime for agriculture which will work in partnership with the sector but ensure a robust and credible deterrent for serious or serial harm. This will presumably move away from the current prescriptive and financial penalties imposed for relatively minor infringements and which have themselves acted as a deterrent to some from entering into schemes.
Overall, the publication gives an indication of the Government’s drive to try to create a more efficient, productive agriculture and to make up for the woeful lack of productivity improvement over the past decades when compared with other nations.
Much detail remains to be decided but we now have an indication of the Government’s strategy together with some application and the Brooks Leney team will be maintaining a constant awareness of policy and proposals to ensure that farmers and landowners have the right advice at the right time in order to take advantage of opportunities that are created.