On 31st November, George Eustice announced the Government’s plan to deliver a better, fairer farming system in England. This is a short summary of the issues which may be of interest to the fresh produce sector.
Full details can be accessed here.
On the 1st January 2021 the agricultural transition period will start. Between 2021 and 2027, Defra
will gradually reduce and then stop untargeted Direct Payments.
Based on an area of 150,000 ha of production for UK horticulture the loss to the sector will be circa £35m. We know that some production land is rented in on annual cropping licenses so in practice the figure is probably less than this, but still significant.
By 2028, the aim is:
- a renewed agricultural sector, producing healthy food for consumption at home and abroad, where farms can be profitable and economically sustainable without subsidy.
- farming and the countryside contributing significantly to environmental goals including addressing climate change.
The new Environment Land Management Scheme will be introduced through pilots and tests from 2021-2024; early roll out of some core elements of all components, particularly the Sustainable Farming Incentive from 2022 and all three components fully available from 2024.
Farming Incentive Scheme
Farmers and growers will be able to enter the Farming Incentive Scheme and choose which elements of the scheme they want to take part in. It will focus on soil management, integrated pest management, nutrient management and livestock management. Initially, all farmers and growers currently in receipt of the Basic Payment Scheme will be eligible.
Exit and New Entrants’ Scheme
From 2022, there will be an exit support scheme to help farmers who want to retire. At the same time, a new scheme will be introduced offering additional support to help new entrants into the industry.
Cross-compliance requirements and standards will continue until payments are delinked. Defra will then move to a new regulatory regime developed in partnership with the industry between 2021 and 2024.
Supply Chain Fairness
The intention is to use the powers in the Agriculture Act 2020 to address market failures that have led to farmers and growers having a weaker position in the supply chain.