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8 January 2018

Environment Secretary Plans for New Farming Subsidy Post Brexit

Michael Gove has indicated that the Common Agricultural Policy will be replaced with new farming subsidies once the UK leaves the European Union.

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, has suggested that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should be replaced by a new ‘green farming’ system. The minister believes the current CAP system, whereby 80% of subsidies (around £2.1 billion a year in the UK, via the Basic Payment Scheme), is flawed.

The new plans amount to reforming the current subsidy regime, moving to a system where payments are made according to the environmental benefits that farmers and landowners deliver, rather than the amount of land owned.

The fresh regime is likely to be phased in over a five-year transition period and is expected to incentivise farmers and landowners to embrace practices such as:

  • planting woodland;
  • providing new habitats for wildlife;
  • increasing biodiversity;
  • contributing to improved water quality; and
  • returning cultivated land to wildflower meadows or other more natural states.

Michael Gove said:

“I believe we should help landowners and managers to make the transition from our current system of subsidy to a new approach of public money for public goods over time.

“We have guaranteed that the amount we allocate to farming support – in cash terms – will be protected throughout and beyond this [transition] period right up until the end of this Parliament in 2022.

“We will continue support for Countryside Stewardship agreements entered into before we leave the EU and we will ensure that no-one in an existing scheme is unfairly disadvantaged when we transition to new arrangements. We will pay the 2019 BPS scheme on the same basis as we do now.

“I then envisage guaranteeing that BPS payments continue for a transition period in England, which should last a number of years beyond the implementation period, depending on consultation.

“During these years, we propose to first reduce the largest BPS payments in England. We could do this through a straight cap at a maximum level or through a sliding scale of reductions, to the largest payments first. After that transition, we will replace BPS with a system of public money for public goods.”


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