The Agriculture Bill 2020: A Changing Landscape
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The Agriculture Bill 2020: A Changing Landscape

The Agriculture Bill 2020

The Agriculture Bill returned to parliament on Thursday and is set to provide the largest change to agricultural policy for over 40 years. The Agriculture Bill will lead to the phased removal of the Basic Payment Scheme Payment (BPS) from 2021 to 2028.

De-linking payments from the requirement to farm land, together with possible lump sum payments of residual BPS are being considered as tools for enabling earlier changes in land occupation and farming structures freeing up land for the next generation and helping new entrants into the sector.

2027 would see the last year of direct Support on farm as we know it, but from 2021 new forms of support will be available towards managing the change in policy and its impact on businesses, this may include grant funding for technology and infrastructure to boost business efficiency.

A new Environmental Land Management Scheme is to be developed and implemented by 2025 to redirect support to ‘Public Money for Public Goods’ for the following purposes:

• managing land or water in a way that protects or improves the environment;

• supporting public access to and enjoyment of the countryside, farmland or woodland and better understanding of the environment;

• managing land or water in a way that maintains, restores or enhances cultural heritage or natural heritage;

• mitigating or adapting to climate change;

• preventing, reducing or protecting from environmental hazards;

• protecting or improving the health or welfare of livestock;

• protecting or improving the health of plants;

We understand that Countryside Stewardship agreements will remain available until 2024. Some HLS agreements coming to an end now are being offered temporary extensions. It is important to make the most of funding opportunities during the transition phase to buffer the impact of these changes on your business. Whilst the Countryside Stewardship Schemes may appear complex, they are achievable and they will provide a valuable income stream from existing natural assets; so, if you have not considered this yet, we would recommend a discussion with one of our advisers to study your options.

The Agriculture Bill also makes provision for government to assist in starting or improving the productivity of an agricultural, horticultural or forestry activity, support for rural development, the collection and sharing of data in the Agri-food supply chain, measures to provide fairness in supply chain contracts and the management of exceptional market conditions.

The Agriculture Bill provides a transitional period of time to review your business with your adviser and put in place a strategy to ‘future proof’ your business to the significant changes ahead. As trusted practical advisers to farmers and landowners, we are ready to assist in the complex discussion, decisions and actions needed on each farm to address these new challenges.

For further information please contact the Rural Team on 01377 253151.