The Government’s long-awaited Agriculture Bill was published on the 12 September, setting out its intentions for future payments to landowners and farmers and a system of payments for public goods. This document is a crucial part of the Government’s planning for the future of farming and land management policy and is expected to become law early next year. There was plenty to digest, but the two main sections of the bill were:
New Financial Assistance
This is going to allow the Government to make payments for a range of “public goods” which will take the form of ELMC (Environmental Land Management Contracts) – there is not a lot of detail yet but in basic terms, getting paid for items of “Public Benefit.”
Early examples are:
It is intended that the ELMC will replace the existing current Rural Development Programmes.
The second section and the one which will affect ALL Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) claimants is:
Financial Support after exiting the EU
There will be a seven year transition period from 2021 to 2027 when BPS will be phased out completely! Interestingly, the BPS will be delinked from the requirement to farm; the implications of this will be very interesting to see over time. The thought process is to allow and encourage more retirement opportunities and easier changeover of land management and farming.
There are also changes to the administration of the BPS (which can only be a good thing) which is hoped to simplify the scheme and might mean that the Greening requirement and cross compliance rules will be removed. Nothing will change until 2020 in terms of receiving BPS but early planning to give your business time to adapt and make plans will be vital.