New projects to help farmers and land managers prepare for life outside the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy have been given the green light, Farming Minister Victoria Prentis announced today.
Nine organisations, including Agri-TechE members Brown & Co and ADAS, have been awarded a share of the government’s £1 million Future Farming Resilience Funding. The projects will provide farmers with tailored on-farm advice to help them fully understand the changes ahead and to identify how to adapt their business models – through one-to-one advice on farms or group information workshops.
The seven-year Agricultural Transition period will start in 2021 and see the current subsidy system of Direct Payments – which pay for the amount of land farmed – phased out from 2021. It will be replaced with a new system that rewards farmers and land managers for the ‘public goods’ they provide, such as better air and water quality, improved access to the countryside and measures to reduce flooding.
Ahead of the future Environment Land Management (ELM) scheme being fully rolled out, farmers and land managers are also being encouraged to apply for Countryside Stewardship (CS) as an additional income stream so they can start delivering environmental benefits on their land now.
Beyond this, the government will help increase productivity and support diversification through a transformative package of productivity grants, launching in 2021.
Farming Minister Victoria Prentis said: “We are transforming British farming to boost productivity, enhance our environment for future generations and support a strong food production sector.
“Whilst we’re not switching off direct payments overnight, we recognise this is a time of huge change for the industry, and we want to help our land managers grasp the exciting opportunities our domestic agricultural policy will provide.
“This initial phase will be thoroughly evaluated to inform future decisions about expanding the Future Farming Resilience Funding in the future, so that more farmers have access to advice and guidance around future change.”
The funding will go to rural-facing organisations across a range of sectors and regions in England and is set to benefit approximately 1,700 farmers this year.
Charles Whitaker, Managing Partner at Brown & Co, said: “Brown & Co are pleased to be awarded this important DEFRA contract at a crucial time of change for the industry. Recognising upfront the challenges and changes to the sector that will be driven through the new British Agricultural Policy as we move away from support under the CAP and BPS is vital, and we believe this project will help farmers and farming families to do so.”
The grants have been awarded following a competitive process from September to November 2019. The projects will be carried out by Bishop Grosseteste University, Brown & Co, Devon County Council, Ricardo-AEA, RSK-ADAS, Soil Association and SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College).
Farmers and land managers should follow these organisations on social media and sign up to mailing lists to hear about local information events and available support.