Environment Secretary George Eustice has rolled out the UK government’s plan for a rural revolution, as the nation prepares for EU farm subsidies to be phased out when the Brexit transition period ends.
The proposal, which the government says will mark the most significant change to farming and land management in 50 years, is designed to be a roadmap for a post-Brexit UK, as it moves towards more sustainable farming from 2021.
Announcing the plan, Eustice said: “We want to support the choices that farmers and land managers take. If we work together to get this right, then a decade from now the rest of the world will want to follow our lead.”
The current EU-backed scheme gives farmers funding based on the amount of land that they farm. The new UK government system, called Environmental Land Management (ELM), will reward farmers if they prevent flooding, help landscapes recover by planting new woodlands and improve wildlife welfare, as part of a move to improve the nation’s environment.
In order to support any farmers that oppose the change in funding, the move will be made in phases, halving the old subsidies by 2024 and abolishing them by 2028. Any farmers who wish to retire instead of accepting the new system will be given the option of accepting a lump-sum retirement payment.
The government’s proposal follows the passing of the Agriculture Bill a few weeks ago, which aims to provide farmers with the tools and incentives to make positive environmental choices and thrive outside of the EU.
These measures will only apply to England, as, following the departure from the EU, agricultural policy will be handed over to the parliamentary bodies within each devolved nation.
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