The Agriculture Bill has now been passed into UK law, representing a “landmark moment” for British farming according to industry leaders.
DEFRA confirmed that the bill obtained royal assent on Wednesday following over 100 hours of parliamentary debate.
The new system will replace the EU funded Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), which DEFRA describes as “inefficient and largely bureaucratic” and seen to skew payments towards the largest landowners based on the size of their land rather than rewarding farmers properly for the work they do.
The Bill sets out how farmers and land managers in England will be rewarded in the future using public money for “public goods” including measures to improve air and water quality, enhance wildlife and soil health, reduce flooding and tackle the effects of climate change. DEFRA believe these incentives will provide a powerful vehicle for achieving the goals of the government’s 25-year Environment Plan and the UK’s commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Direct payments will be phased out over an agricultural transition period, 2021 -2027 allowing farmers and land managers the time they need to adapt to the new ELMS Scheme (Environmental Land Management Scheme).
Farmers and land managers will also be eligible for alternative support during this time. We understand productivity grants will be on offer next year with Countryside Stewardship schemes remaining open to new applications in the first few years of the agricultural transition period.
There is no doubt that policy and trading markets will require major change in farming businesses going forwards, but those businesses that are resilient and open to change will have opportunities to succeed. For up to date advice and a strategic review of your farming business, do not hesitate to contact Will Foyle, Andrew Hardcastle or Catherine Johnston in our Agricultural Team on 01423 860322.