It has been a long time coming, but on 12th September the new Agriculture Bill was introduced into the House of Commons. The phrase “take back control” was used again in the headline of the press release that was issued that day. The Bill sets out how farmers and land managers will be paid in future for “public goods” – only. These payments will fully replace the “current subsidy system of Direct Payments, which is ineffective…..”. While the payments will be as now for 2019, and similar for 2020 (but maybe simplified), they will reduce to zero by 2027.
We all know the NHS, schools, roads – and even defence – all have a greater chance of winning government funds than farmers. Michael Gove will try to sound generous in his speeches and announcements, but it will not translate into much cash for food producers, but if you can produce food at the same time as “public goods”, you may still receive something.
There may well come a time in this period when it becomes uneconomic for intensive farmers (including intensive dairy farmers) to produce the “public goods” required, and so they may opt out of the new scheme – whatever it looks like – in the near future. It may pay to just farm intensively (while adhering to all other laws, of course) and to ignore other aspects of environmental management.
Of course, some buyers of milk (and beef, cereals etc) may insist via their contracts that farmers adhere to certain standards, which may include the new proposed ELMS, but we will have to wait and see what they propose. For now, get ready to receive much less subsidy from the UK Government.
For more information on The Agriculture Bill and the effect on your business contact Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org