The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has said that farmers in England will be left feeling very worried following the announcement of DEFRA’s Agricultural Transition Plan today.
TFA National Chairman, Mark Coulman said, “There is broad acceptance that we need to change the way farmers are rewarded by reallocating money paid through the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) into schemes targeting public benefits, productivity and resilience. However, the announcement made by DEFRA today tells us, with great clarity, how much we will be losing in terms of the BPS without giving anything like the detail needed to understand how this can be recouped through the new schemes”.
By 2024, the plan is that all current recipients of BPS will have seen their payments reduced by at least half. Whilst they will be given access to new schemes, no details of the payments available have been given today.
“We have been over four years discussing these policy changes and with only days to go before the plan comes into effect in January, it is inexcusable that we find ourselves in the position of lacking much of the essential detail. We need to have very early engagement with DEFRA on how the new schemes will be rolled out so that farm businesses have the information needed to plan. Apart from what we know we are losing, the way ahead is far from clear,” said Mr Coulman.
However, it is welcome to see that the plan does not repeat the mantra of basing payments for the future Environmental Land Management Scheme on income foregone.
“It’s good that DEFRA has taken on board the need to learn lessons from current schemes and to develop an approach to payments to provide a fair return to participants or else the Environmental Land Management scheme will fail to deliver its objectives. We look forward to working with DEFRA on developing the payment mechanisms. This work must start immediately,” said Mr Coulman.