The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has spoken out in favour of plans to allow the delinking and consolidation of Basic Payments as part of the new agricultural policy in England and Wales.

The option to apply for a delinked or lump sum payment was one of the Defra proposals in its ‘Health and Harmony’ consultation document and for which provisions have now been published in the Agriculture Bill going through Parliament.

Simplifying payments

TFA farm policy adviser, Lynette Steel said: “Opting for a delinked payment will simplify how BPS payments are received and will allow land use decisions to be made on economic and business grounds rather than driven by the requirements of the support regime.

“The ability to claim payments as a lump sum could allow recipients to use the capital to promote on-farm investment to drive productivity and profitability, or investment into on, or off-farm diversified activity.”

The TFA said that another advantage of a lump sum payment would be to assist with retirement and restructuring.

“For tenant farmers – particularly those on older, secure tenancies – a lump sum payment could unlock the possibility of a housing solution for future retirement or, coupled with a payment for a tenancy surrender, provide a more immediate move into retirement, allowing their holding to be farmed either by a new entrant or another farmer looking to progress their business,” she added.

With only a few details available for how delinking and lump sum payments would operate, the TFA has produced a short paper to provide some suggestions on how the arrangements could work in practice.

“The TFA’s paper is an attempt to put some flesh on the bones of the initial idea. It looks at rules of eligibility, payment mechanisms, the impact on the future use of farmland previously used to be matched with entitlements and how the success of the scheme should be evaluated.

“We will be using the paper as part of our ongoing discussions with Defra and the Welsh Government,” said Lynette.