Europe’s plans for reforming the Common Agricultural Policy should be factored in to UK farmers’ business planning, given it is still unclear when any future domestic agricultural policy will apply from and what conditions might be attached to any future trade deals, according to Strutt & Parker.
The European Commission has recently published a legal document on EU farming policy and support after 2020, which includes capping of payments and cuts to environmental and rural development spending.
“These changes are important to the UK as it is still unclear when a British farming policy will apply from, given major uncertainties remaining in the UK-EU withdrawal negotiations,” said farm consultant George Chichester, who is the chair of Strutt & Parker’s Farm Research Group.
“Although the proposals are still open to negotiation and change, so cannot be treated as definitive, it is possible we may have to comply with these rules until our British policy is ready.
“We hope to find out more about the possible timing when the government publishes the Agriculture Bill, which DEFRA Secretary Michael Gove has indicated will be before the end of July.”
Mr Chichester added that even if a domestic agricultural policy is in operation by the time the European reforms come into effect, UK farmers will want a sense of how their position could compare to that of farmers in other countries, as they will be competitors in the global marketplace.
Key elements of the EU’s plans for the CAP from 2020 to 2027 are:
- Greater power for Member States to design their own policies, under both Pillar 1 (direct payments) and Pillar 2 (environment and rural development). However, this must be done within a common framework
- A 15% cut in real terms in the total CAP budget
- Introduction of a compulsory 100,000 euro ceiling on direct payments per beneficiary per year, with reductions in payments applying from 60,000 euros to redirect money at small- and medium-sized farms
- Higher levels of direct support for young farmers and simpler administration procedures for smaller farms
- Scrapping of existing greening rules which could be replaced with new requirements, including mandatory nutrient management plans, crop rotation standards and rules on preserving carbon rich soils, wetlands and peats
- A new ‘eco-scheme’ to reward farmers who go beyond standard environment management