The government has published a consultation on changes to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) to support farmers through the agricultural transition period from now, until 2027, which will deliver a better, fairer farming system in England.
The consultation will be open for 12 weeks and focuses on the two key areas below.
Lump sum exit scheme
Building on evidence that some farmers would like to retire or leave the industry but have found it difficult to do so for financial reasons, the government proposes to offer them a lump sum payment to help them do this in a planned and managed way.
The consultation seeks views on who should be eligible for these lump sum payments and how the payments should be calculated.
The government plans to phase Direct Payments out over a gradual seven year transition period.
The consultation includes plans to separate the payment from the amount of land farmed, from 2024.
It is said that should simplify the process for farmers, allow them to focus on running their business and encourage them to take up the government’s new environmental land management schemes, which will reward sustainable food production and environmental improvements.
The consultation seeks views on how the ‘delinked’ payments will be calculated.
The government added that a “vibrant farming industry” also needs to attract new talent and create more opportunities for new entrants and farmers wishing to expand their businesses.
The government is working together with industry leaders, local councils, land owners and new entrants to co-design a scheme to create real opportunities for new farming businesses.
The new scheme will be available to support new entrants from 2022. Recommendations for the design of the scheme will be shared later in the year.
‘We need to address the twin challenges’
Environment Secretary George Eustice said:
“We need to address the twin challenges of helping new entrants fulfil their dream and gain access to land, while also helping an older generation retire with dignity.
Our exit scheme will offer farmers who want to exit the industry all of the area payments they would likely have received until the end of the transition period in a single lump sum. It gives them a real incentive to confront what can often be a difficult decision and will help them clear bills and settle debts.
“By renting out their farm or surrendering their tenancy, those exiting the industry will create important opportunities for the next generation of farmers and later this year we will be saying more about our plans to work with County Farm estates and other land owners to ensure that we nurture the right conditions for new enterprises to flourish.”