DEFRA – Farming is changing

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DEFRA has this week released its latest article on its vision for the future, aptly titled “Farming is changing, here’s what you need to know”. In the main part, the article re-confirms the Government’s intention to phase out direct subsidy over a transition period from 2021 to 2027. This, certainly in the first year, will have bigger reductions in the higher payment bands (all bands detailed on DEFRA website, link below). Further to this, there is an intention to ‘delink’ direct payments from the requirement to farm the land. This is hoped to provide a greater turnover in land from which new entrants or existing expanding farmers can benefit. DEFRA are also considering the potential to offer farmers a one off lump sum in lieu of a number of years of direct payments, again hoping to stimulate a greater turnover in land. A consultation on the potential to ‘delink’ and offer one off payments is expected later this year but, in any circumstance, the earliest this is likely to take effect is 2021. Delinking payments also requires an overhaul of the regulatory process which DEFRA says will become more targeted, balancing industry standards against proportionate monitoring and enforcement. The aim for more data sharing will probably mean an increase in automatic remote inspections. On the Stewardship front, Countryside Stewardship will remain available, certainly through the early years of the transition period. The new ELMS scheme will replace this in the mid 2020’s. From a practical point of view, at this stage we are encouraging clients to ensure all of their land is registered with the Rural Payments Agency and the number of entitlements maximised against the eligible area. If transitions from previous schemes are anything to go by, it is likely that 2019 or 2020 could see a base year against which land and entitlements are established. To ensure you are benefitting from the latest specialist advice do not hesitate to contact a member of our agricultural team on 01423 860322. To read the DEFRA article in full please see the website.