The UK Government has proposed a new agriculture bill which outlines how new farming incentives to support sustainability will operate following Brexit.
The country’s current system of ‘direct payments’ pays farmers based on the total amount of land that they farm, but the government has expressed concern that this disproportionately favours the largest landowners, and that this payment system does not contribute to public benefits. With its new farming incentives to support sustainability, the government seeks to replace direct payments and reform this system.
Now, farmers and land managers will be paid for public good, such as improvements they can deliver to air quality, water quality and soil health, as well as providing better animal welfare standards, measures to reduce flooding and public access to the countryside.
How will the new system support farmers?
The government aims to work with farmers to design, develop and trial its new Environmental Land Management system, to ensure that it operates fairly for stakeholders across the agriculture sector. This system also reflects the UK’s ambition to become a world leader in environmentally sound and sustainable agriculture following Brexit.
Over a seven-year transition period, the government will also support new technologies and methods for boosting productivity, providing funding that will allow farmers to collaborate on research projects that will ensure the sustainability of their operations.
Why does the government feel that the new payment system is needed?
According to UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove, the new system would replace the EU’s common agricultural policy with a more streamlined and contemporary set of rules, and strengthen the UK’s ability to respond to environmental concerns in agriculture.
He said: “This Bill will allow us to reward farmers who protect our environment, leaving the countryside in a cleaner, greener and healthier state for future generations. Critically, we will also provide the smooth and gradual transition that farmers and land managers need to plan ahead.”