In the article ‘How Could Brexit Affect My Farm?’ we explored some of the potential impacts of Brexit on farm businesses.
In September 2018 the Government published the Agriculture Bill 2018, which contains the framework for UK agricultural policy post-Brexit.
The main goal of the Bill is arguably to outline the replacement of the Basic Payment Scheme with a new scheme that will encourage farmers to increase their productivity, carry out research and development and reduce their carbon footprint.
Here are some of the most important points arising from the Bill:
Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)
The BPS payment for 2019 will be paid as normal and the 2020 payment is likely to be paid in broadly the same way.
Agricultural transition period
From 2021 there is to be a seven-year transition period in which the UK’s new agricultural policy will, over time, supersede the EU policy to which the UK is currently subject. It is likely that there will be a reduction in payments, but there will not be a requirement to actively farm land in order to receive the payments, enabling farmers to diversify without compromising their eligibility to receive payments.
New Environmental Land Management system
The Government will work with farmers in order to collaborate with them on the creation of the new payment system. The largest payments will be made to those farmers who deliver the greatest environmental benefits. Some of the factors that are likely to be taken into consideration include:
- improvements to air and water quality
- improvements to soil health
- reduction of ammonia emissions
- provision of habitats/sources of food for wildlife
- taking measures to reduce the farmer’s environmental impact
- allowing public access
taking measures to prevent/reduce the incidence and severity of flooding
Productivity and investment
It is intended that funding will be available for farmers to undertake research and development projects in order to increase their productivity and to carry out environmental improvement projects.
The Government intends to increase transparency within supply chains in an effort to ensure that farmers can strengthen their negotiating position with retailers.
The Bill lacks detail on how the new scheme will be administered. It therefore remains to be seen how accessible, effective and sustainable the new policy will be, but we will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.
These notes are intended for information purposes. They are not a full statement of the law and should not be relied on as specific legal advice.