Row of cows at farm in Shropshire

The Changing Face of Farming Policy – what to expect in the 2020s

03/02/20The Changing Face of Farming Policy – what to expect in the 2020s

There are a multitude of reasons why UK farming policy continues to evolve. Some of these changes are driven by the changing nature of British farming and some are as a result of political changes, such as Brexit. The UK government has outlined how it sees the role of farming in the future UK and the role farmers and landowners have to play.

In the future farmers will continue to provide high-quality food, while enhancing and protecting the countryside, which is one of our most valuable resources. Leaving the European Union via Brexit means that the government can legislate to shape agricultural policy. This will include inward investment and also help with research and development.

Changing of the guard for farming policy

Changes will be implemented to UK agricultural policy over a seven-year transitional period. This will be gradual, to allow farmers and land managers sufficient time to adapt and prepare. During this period, Direct Payments in England will be phased out, to move away from a subsidy-based approach, to a more business-like partnership. The UK government recognises that farmers, land managers and the many sectors that support our agricultural industry need to plan ahead for this, to make sure their businesses are self-reliant, productive and resilient.

The government will aim to become less bureaucratic and more collaborative and work in partnership with farmers, land managers and others, to design and develop a progressive system. Paramount in this is the promotion of the role of the agricultural community and the positive contribution it makes to the UK’s environment and its food sector.

Investment going forward in farming

Among the changes that will be made, Direct Payments will be phased out in England from 2021 to 2027. They will be ‘delinked’ from the requirement to farm the land, and the government plans to make these payments regardless of whether the recipient chooses to continue with farming or not. Delinked payments could be used in any way – for example, to invest in improving productivity, to diversify the business or even to retire from farming. This should help to provide more opportunities for new entrants and existing farmers who wish to expand, diversify or to buy or rent land.

By 2021, the government plans to outline what compliance looks like and how the government will monitor regulations in the short term. In the longer term, it plans to implement a partnership-based approach in designing a future regulatory system. This means the government will work with famers to develop ways to monitor regulation in the future.

The future is green for farming

The government has committed to fund the Rural Development Programme projects commencing before the end of 2020 and they will run for the lifetime of their agreement. The government has recognised the unique situations of the UK’s rural areas and the support they will require after we leave the EU. It is for this reason that it is working with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to develop ways for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to support the rural economy after we leave the EU.

Under current plans, new Countryside Stewardship agreements will continue to be available in the first few years of the agricultural transition period, though this will eventually become the new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme. Under the transition, there will be a period when both the old and new systems operate. In this way, the government plans to pay farmers and land managers to provide environmental benefits. In 2024, it will launch this ELM scheme, as one way to do this.

These are just some of the many ways farming policy is changing in the next few years. The changes are designed to help farmers and landowners full realise the potential of their assets and also make them most productive and beneficial to the UK economy. If you’d like to talk to our experts at Forge about how these changes will affect you, your land and your business, then please get in touch via our website or social media.

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