Some Good News for Farmers from Defra

DEFRA puts pen to paper to share “Farming is changing here’s what you need to know,” to notify Farmers of support going forward, which favours innovation, technology, animal welfare and protection of the environment. 

The leaflet is designed to raise awareness and understanding within the farming community of the changes that will follow after Brexit.

Mark Barrow

Mark Barrow Head of Land Agency (South Lakes) for H&H Land & Property.

H&H Land and Property is the H&H Group's specialist Chartered Surveyors and Land Agents, offer a wide range of expertise and professional services in every aspect of rural property across the North of England, the Borders and South West Scotland.  Mark Barrow, H&H Land and Property’s Head of Land Agency (South Lakes), responds to what he believes provides some positive news for the future of the farming industry.

“As the small grant scheme closes for this year, it is great to see DEFRA making longer term commitments to farmers.  The intention is to transition away from a subsidy-based approach to a more business-like partnership where businesses are self-reliant, productive and resilient,” says Mark.

“This announcement provides some assurances as to DEFRA’s intended changes and the proposals behind how English agricultural policy will be shaped. Not only is it welcome news, it is interesting to see at this early stage where some key funding is going to be focussed, which is towards new innovation and technology, animal welfare, combined with protecting the environment.”

Mark explains that the key changes highlighted in the paper will include the phasing out of direct payments in England from 2021 to 2027.  The payments will be reduced fairly in the first year with the biggest reductions applied to the highest payment bands. 

The paper also proposes some key developments:

  • Delinking Direct Payments -  consideration of an option of offering farmers a one-off lump sum in place of any direct payments and there is a plan to run a consultation with farmers later in the year to identify the best workable options and timescales (the earliest lump sum change being 2021.)  The intention behind this is to help to provide more opportunities for new entrants, and existing farmers wishing to expand, or to buy or rent land.

  • Countryside Stewardship (CS) - new CS agreements will continue to be available but will be transitioned into Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes. The paper states that there will be a time when both schemes may run in parallel but assures any farmer in a CS agreement that they will not be unfairly disadvantaged.

  • Environmental Land Management (ELM) – it states that payment to farmers for environmental benefits will be introduced and plans in 2024 for a new ELM scheme as a way to do this.  Those awarded ELM agreements will be paid directly from public funds for environmental benefits.

  • Tree and Plant Health - in recognition of the environmental benefits provided by trees, woodlands and forests, there will be a review of the existing package for tree health grants to protect the treescape from disease. A similar approach will be addressed with regard to animal health in developing a new approach in the prevention of endemic disease and improving the health of livestock.

  • Animal Welfare – farmers will receive public funding to provide animal welfare enhancement beyond the regulatory baseline and considerations are being given to animal welfare grants to provide one-off grants for excellence.

  • Research & Development (R&D) – the intention is to support R&D projects to improve productivity and facilitate more efficient and sustainable food production. Plans are outlined for a package to address farming industry challenges to increase innovative solutions on farms.

“Now these key areas of opportunity have been laid out by DEFRA, all landowners and farmers would be best advised to keep their ears to the ground and look for any new opportunities to maintain and diversify their income streams and grasp new opportunities where available.  Of course, this is early days and the finer details will be paramount, but it is welcome to see that DEFRA are to run consultations later in the year for example regarding the one–off lump sum payment.” 

Mark concludes:
“These are changing and challenging times from a number of perspectives - Brexit, Climate Change, Technology Digitalisation to name but a few. So never has it been more important for farmers and landowners to ensure that they are properly advised and placed to benefit from the opportunities which have been announced within this paper.”

H&H Land & Property are there to support farmers and wider rural businesses, these initiatives always bring with them potential opportunities, so it is important for farmers to make the most of the schemes and to discuss the final details with us, H&H Land and Property are here to help and support landowners and the agricultural industry.

HH Land

Related Links
link Land for the Many - The Labour Party Report
link Auction Marts Play Part in Tackling Mental Health Issues
link New Government must Address Potential Dairy Industry Labour Crisis
link CAAV Ready to Embrace the Future