UK farmers to be paid to protect environment
British farmers and land managers will be paid for improving air quality, animal welfare, soil health and a range of other ‘public goods’ under a new Agriculture Bill announced yesterday.
The current EU method of handing out subsidies to farmers in the form of direct payments will be replaced with a new environmental land management system next year.
This is part of the government’s “green Brexit” vision, although direct payments will only be completely phased out in 2027 following a lengthy transition period.
Environment secretary, Michael Gove, said: “The introduction of the Agriculture Bill is an historic moment as we leave the EU and move towards a brighter future for farming.
“After nearly 50 years of being tie to burdensome and outdated EU rules, we have an opportunity to deliver a green Brexit. This bill will allow us to reward farmers who protect our environment.”
Direct payments have been criticised for disproportionately rewarding the UK’s largest landowners without being linked to any specific public benefits, with the top 10% of recipients receiving around half of payments.
However, these will be made in much the same way they are today over 2019 and 2020, before being phased out over a transition period in England between 2021 and 2027.
The new legislation will also ensure funding is made available for farmers to get access to developmental and research projects, whether that be schemes for soil health or sustainable livestock farming.
The government will also be able to make payments during the seven-year transition period for famers to invest in new technologies and methods that boost productivity.
Moreover, the bill sets out how the government will collect data to strengthen transparency in supply chains, helping farmers get a better deal in the marketplace.
“Critically, we will also provide the smooth and gradual transition that farmers and land managers need to plan ahead,” Gove added.
Image credit | iStock
Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM