In line with the exact percentage reductions to direct payments published back in October last year, farmers will begin to see a reduction in their direct payments from 2021. A more specific timeline is to be released once the Agriculture Bill has been passed through parliament and the UK has left the European Union (EU). We do know that in the first year of the transitional phase, farmers will see the largest reduction to the higher payment bands in a staggered approach to payment reductions. Later years will then be decided based on future plans and government spending.
In order to provide opportunities for both new entrants and support for existing farmers wishing to expand, landowners should expect the requirement to farm the land to be ‘delinked’ from the payment over this transitional period. Defra has said, with possible delinking to commence as early as 2021, that they plan to make the payments regardless of whether the recipient continues to farm or not. On top of this, farmers may be offered a ‘one-off’ lump sum as early as 2021, instead of any direct payments they would receive over the transition period. A consultation to assess how best this would work is outlined in the Defra release plan but there remains an incentive for farmers to retire.
Improved communication and data-sharing is outlined to be the main priority in future UK agricultural regulation.
By 2021, short term regulation of the industry will lead to the design of a future regulatory system through farmer involvement. The aims for future policy to improve transparency in the supply chain were outlined, with an emphasis on tree, plant and animal health. There will be improved access to data for farmers, which will replace the European Producer Organisation system for a UK specific organisation and Defra will publish, maintain and enforce statutory codes of practice. Reviewing tree health grants and coordinated responses to supporting local action groups for tree health and animal health were also included within the government release. Investment in soil health is an interesting omission but we are still not looking at the final version of the release.