The government consultation period into the administration of direct payments and a lump sum exit payment for farmers who may be looking to leave the industry has now concluded.

Responding to the consultation, National Farmers’ Union (NFU) vice president Tom Bradshaw said:

“The NFU has made their response clear; we need to see a domestic agriculture policy that gives farmers thinking of leaving the industry enough time and information to make those life-changing decisions that affect their farming future.

It is also crucial that those remaining in the industry are not unfairly disadvantaged and we allow farming and British food production to thrive for generations to come.

“Our own consultation reached 2,500 members and confirmed what we already know – that every farmer is unique.

“Their personal circumstances, land tenure and enterprises vary massively, so we cannot accept a ‘one size fits all’ approach,” he continued.

“For tenants there are the added complications to meet with the legal requirements of giving notice to their landlords.

“Deciding to exit our industry is leaving a job like no other and deeply subjective to that person, which is why any future approach – whether it be lump sum or delinking – must be sensitive of this fact.”

A ‘flexible approach’

“It’s clear that many members are concerned about the loss of a family home, so we would urge a flexible approach to this, allowing those exiting the industry to keep their residential property or any non-farming related business,” he added.

A flexible approach would reduce barriers for those wishing to exit the industry and still have the potential for income from non-farming activities.

“It goes without saying that as much as those leaving need support, so do those entering the industry.

Emerging agricultural policies must work hand in hand and provide a base for all aspects of a successful farming business which is not only a job, but also a way of life which is at the heart of our rural communities.

“It is also important to remember that agricultural and trade policy can’t be viewed in isolation, as the new trade deals, and their consequences, play a crucial role in the viability of family farms.

“We welcome participation in any future consultation and await a prompt response that we hope has taken into account our members’ concerns, giving them certainty of when the exit scheme will be open for applications,” he concluded.