The Government has just published its revised Agricultural Bill, a significant piece of legislation that will re-shape the industry over the coming years.
With most Farms having just received their 2019 Basic Payment, it is perhaps the perfect time to think about how best to future proof your business. As fundamentally the Bill has not changed from 2018, with a move away from direct payments and BPS being phased out over 7 years. The first potential year that reductions could be applied is 2021 – not that far around the corner…
There are some things however which have changed from the original proposal;
- The government is to set out ‘Financial Assistance Plan’ for 7 years starting from the 1st January 2021 (and every 5 years there thereafter). Setting out the funding priorities and details of ongoing and new financial assistance schemes which will affect the period. Any changes to a plan have to be approved by Parliament.
Hopefully this will provide specific details on future support schemes and give a clearer idea of what to expect, allowing for future planning providing more stability and security.
- The Government will be required to monitor and report on the effectiveness and impact of any financial assistance schemes. Hopefully this will provide the opportunity to work closely with Farmers to make schemes that are practical but also provide maximum benefit and value.
- A requirement for the Government to report regularly on food security and resilience of the food supply chain. Aiming to have improved data, knowledge and insight to better influence policies, as well as giving the ability to ensure all sellers of agricultural produce are regulated and adhering to codes of practise and regulations.
- Increased support for tenant farmers so they can object if consent is not given to access any new forms of funding or to make necessary changes to meet new regulations.
- Soil health’s importance was recognised for its value as a public good, with financial assistance potentially available for protecting and improving its quality.
Overall it is important that the farmers and lobby groups appear to have been heard on some areas and there have been some positive additions to the Bill. Hopefully its impact on the industry will be positive and it can deliver on protecting and enhancing the environment we have, safeguarding our high production standards and supply chain, and aiding the industries future productivity and competitiveness.