The government has launched a consultation into the administration of direct payments and a lump sum exit payment for farmers looking to leave the industry.
The 12-week consultation is seeking views on how new ‘delinked’ subsidies toreward sustainable food production and environmental improvementswill be calculated.
In addition, the government is proposing to offer a single sum to farmers who would like to retire or leave the agricultural sectorso they can do this in a planned and managed way.
The consultation is seeking views on who should be eligible for these lump sum payments and how the payments should be calculated.
Post-Brexit, the UK is transitioningaway from the £3 billion European Common Agricultural Policy system of direct payments in favour of incentives for sustainable production.
Changes will only apply to farmers in England, as the Welsh and Scottish devolved administrations will decide separately how to allocate their own farm funding.
Under the proposals, the government will introduce the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme to incentivise sustainable farming practices, create habitats for nature recovery and establish new woodland to help tackle climate change.
Responding to the launch of the consultation, NFU vice-president Tom Bradshaw said: “The NFU wants to see a domestic agricultural policy that allows farm businesses to thrive, rewarding them for both the safe, traceable and affordable food they produce for the nation and their extensive work caring for the countryside.
“As our agricultural support is overhauled, farm businesses across the country will be making life-changing decisions about the future of their farm or tenancy. We want to see a fair transition which allows farmers who are considering leaving the industry to have sufficient time and information to make those significant decisions.
“We must also recognise the personal nature of this decision and how no two farm businesses are the same, meaning each set of circumstances for a farmer considering a lump sum exit payment will be truly unique. We will now be consulting with our members extensively to understand their views on these proposals.”
He added that any discussion around people exiting the industry must be accompanied by plans to attract new people to farming.
“It’s crucial that the schemes announced today work in a coherent way with schemes such as the New Entrant Scheme and Future Farm Resilience Fund to ensure British farming has a thriving workforce for generations to come,” he said.
Referring to fears that the UK’s food and farming standards could be compromised by future trade deals, he said: “Policy transition must not ignore the consequences of the government’s new trade deals as these will be absolutely critical to the viability of many family farms. Trade and policy must act in tandem.”