Agriculture Saved from Government’s Spending Cuts For Now - DEFRA budget increase targets climate defence with no changes to funding for farmers.
Farmers can breathe a sigh of relief as COVID cuts to the agricultural sector have been avoided, protecting payments of £2.4 billion dedicated to farm support for the year 2021-2022. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has delivered a crisis-aversion spending programme, with a strong focus on environmental initiatives and continuing existing agricultural capital spend. With about a month to go before the transition period draws to a close, H&H Land & Estates highlights that this continuation of funding means farmers will be protected from additional shocks as they navigate the twists and turns of Britain’s departure from the EU.
The DEFRA budget increase of £1 billion is largely directed towards climate defence and environmental restoration schemes. Following the devastating floods in Yorkshire and Wales early in the year, rural communities will be relieved by the doubling of the flooding and coastal defence investment to £200m a year. However, there was little detail on the role of farmers in enhancing flood protection for 336,000 vulnerable homes.
Nick Mullins, Rural Surveyor at H&H Land & Estates in Cumbria, commented: “It would be interesting to see more detail about what vision there is for farmers and landowners to help deliver this commitment. As well as more information on what additional financial or practical support there might be for farms to slow the flow of water and to retain it on their land for longer.
“Likewise, while the target of restoring peatland and planting 30,000 hectares of trees in 5 years is a necessary and ambitious step, ideas about how farmers will be supported to deliver this are thin on the ground. It is likely some of this will be delivered in the ELMs schemes.”
This year’s Spending Review means no cuts to farming payments, which will be eagerly welcomed by farmers all across the country. Yet, the uncertainty of what is to come in terms of future spending as the UK transitions to ELMs and BPS payments are phased out, still remains an important question.
Nick continued, “What we know is that from next year, the Basic Payment Scheme will begin to be phased out and ultimately replaced by ELMs over time. ELMs are an entirely different scheme altogether, and will not be a direct replacement. This means it will not be a like-for-like funding or management substitute, as the criteria and objectives are changing to help address new priorities for farming in terms of productivity and environmental protection.”
H&H Land & Estates reminds farmers that the BPS payment window opens on the 1st December 2020. This will be the last payment before the expected reductions begin as part of the phasing out of BPS.
The payment rates are as follows:
Non SDA: £233.216
SDA Moorland: £63.95
H&H Land & Estates is a leading property and rural land agency, with offices across the North of England and Southern Scotland. Nick Mullins from the Carlisle office concluded with some final advice: “If anyone has any queries over their payment or questions about future changes, please contact our local office for advice and we can help you work through your next steps.”