Direct payments in the UK set to be maintained for ‘a number of years’

This morning the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, gave assurances that Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments will be maintained for a “number of years“.

It is believed that the payments will be paid at the current rate until 2024.

Speaking this morning at the Oxford Farming Conference, Gove said: “I believe we should help land owners and managers to make the transition from our current system of subsidy to a new approach of public money for public goods over time.

“We will formally leave the EU in March of 2019, but the government anticipates that we will agree an implementation or transition period for the whole country with the EU lasting for around another two years.

“We have guaranteed that the amount we allocate to farming support – in cash terms – will be protected throughout and beyond this period right up until the end of this parliament in 2022.

“We will continue support for Countryside Stewardship agreements entered into before we leave the EU and we will ensure that no one in an existing scheme is unfairly disadvantaged when we transition to new arrangements. We will pay the 2019 BPS scheme on the same basis as we do now.

I then envisage guaranteeing that BPS payments continue for a transition period in England, which should last a number of years beyond the implementation period – depending on consultation.

“During these years, we propose to first reduce the largest BPS payments in England. We could do this through a straight cap at a maximum level or through a sliding scale of reductions, to the largest payments first,” Gove said.

After the implementation period, this transitional payment could be paid to the recipient without the need to comply with all the “onerous” existing cross-compliance rules and procedures, he added.

Continuing, Gove said: “Inspections would, of course, continue but in the streamlined and risk-based fashion I described earlier. Provided our own animal welfare, environmental and other laws were observed this payment would be guaranteed.

This should provide every existing farmer who receives a BPS payment with a guaranteed income over this extended transition period.

“That guaranteed income should provide time for farmers to change their business model if necessary, help to make the investment necessary for any adjustments and prepare for the future.

“We will also look at ways to support farmers who may choose to leave the industry.

“And, after that transition, we will replace BPS with a system of public money for public goods,” he said.