Plans to refocus government funding programmes for England’s rural businesses have been set out at the Country Land and Business Association’s annual Rural Business Conference.
The Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, has announced plans to streamline and simplify government support for farmers, following the country’s decision to leave the European Union.
The Secretary of State has outlined how Defra will make practical and pragmatic changes to existing farm support systems, improving the process and enabling farmers to focus on their day-to-day activities.
Michael Gove believes the current system of farm support to be inefficient, ineffective, inequitable, and environmentally harmful. He has spoken of a need to change the way the government invests in the countryside so farmers can more readily access support to protect wildlife, enhance the environment and improve land use.
To begin the reorganisation process, there will be simplifications made to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme through the creation of four new streamlined offers which are set to launch early in the New Year. The revised offers are expected to have a simpler application process, with less paperwork, making it easier for farmers and land managers to apply and deliver environmental benefits on their land.
The Secretary of State also announced further support including a further £45 million top-up to the RDPE Growth Programme to help rural business development, food processing and rural infrastructure projects.
The Government has already pledged to match the support farmers currently receive from the CAP until the end of the current parliament and set out its intention to continue supporting farmers where the environmental benefits are clear.
Michael Gove said:
“I have set out plans to improve our current schemes, starting with simplifying support for farmers to protect and enhance our landscapes and countryside.
“But these measures are just the beginning – the first steps towards a simplified system of support. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be working closely with our farmers to make sure we listen to what they want as we design a new approach and realise our vision for the future of UK food and farming outside the EU.”