Agriculture – Transitional Timescales

At the beginning of the week, DEFRA published their “Agricultural Transition Plan for 2021-2024” which detailed the plans for cutting ties with Europe’s ‘Common Agricultural Policy’ over the next several years. Dates and deadlines have been set for different elements of the plan, but DEFRA have made it very clear that this will be a work in progress – they understand the importance of listening to, and working with farmers to make adjustments throughout. They are learning by doing.


The Agricultural Transition Plan will see the next 7 years bring about major change to the Farming Industry in the UK, as it demonstrates we are now embarking on our post-Brexit course – towards a modern and sustainable approach to the allocation of public funding.


The largest element of the document, explains to farmers about the end of Direct Payments. By 2024, Direct Payments will be reduced by 50%, and phased out completely by 2028.


The savings made between now and 2024 will be protected and instead be available under new schemes and grants. These new grants will focus on environmental improvement, productivity improvement and animal welfare.


“This is an evolution, rather than a revolution.”


The shift in funding will see a larger share of the money spent on environmental schemes, from a current figure of 23% to 57% in 2024.


What does the timeline look like for all of these changes?



  • As of 1st January 2021, Direct Payments will begin to reduce
  • Tests, trials and pilots of all schemes/grants will continue, alongside a National Pilot of the Environmental Land Management
  • DEFRA will continue to work with farmers to co-design plans for the future years


2022 to 2023:  

  • Untargeted Direct Payments will continue to reduce – by 15% in both 2022 and 2023
  • In both years, funding will increase for the pre-existing Countryside Stewardship Scheme, to hopefully increase participation
  • A Slurry Investment Scheme will be introduced in 2022, to help farmers meet rules around slurry management over the transition period
  • Also in 2022, plans are being made to create exit schemes to assist farmers with retirement, and to help New Entrants overcome the barriers that are often associated with starting in the industry
  • There will be programmes and grants to help with nature recovery – which will be consolidated in the new ELM scheme in the future



 2024 to 2028:

  • By the end of 2024, Direct Payment will be reduced by 50%. This funding is still available, and instead invested in different grants/schemes
  • In 2024, all Direct Payments will be delinked and any residual payments will be phased out until 2027
  • The three tiers of the ELM offer will begin at the latter end of 2024


Although the changes detailed in the “Agricultural Transition Plan” will be rolled our gradually, it’s still the most significant change our industry has seen in over 50 years. It’s in opportunity to create a set of rules and targets which are applicable and niche to the UK, and decide what kind of legacy we wish to leave future generations.