‘Delay phasing out payments’ - National Farmers’ Union

The planned phasing out of farm support payments should be delayed, according to the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).
MINETTE BUTTERS: It is unreasonable to keep farmers in a state of uncertainty.MINETTE BUTTERS: It is unreasonable to keep farmers in a state of uncertainty.
MINETTE BUTTERS: It is unreasonable to keep farmers in a state of uncertainty.

Payments were due to be phased out from 2021 but that is now “unreasonable”, the union said, after the Government opted not to carry forward the current version of the Agriculture Bill into the next session of Parliament.

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Instead, the current system of payments – as currently dictated by the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy – should stay in place for another 12 months, it argued.

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Minette Batters, the NFU’s president, said: “With the fall of the Agriculture Bill, there is no guarantee at all that the legislation will be in place to enable the Government to begin its planned transition to a new farm support system in 2021.

“It is totally unreasonable to keep farmers in a state of uncertainty about what system might be in place from 2021. We are proposing the Government’s plans to move away from the current system are postponed by at least a year, to run from 2022 to 2028. We hope that continued uncertainty will not require a postponement of more than a year.”

With the prospect of a no-deal Brexit having grown, there is a higher risk of instability to markets for British food in the next couple of years, which could see some farming operations cease, she warned.

“There is every chance we could find ourselves leaving without a deal, facing huge economic disruption with farms struggling to remain viable. That is not the time to start dismantling the support system that has provided such important stability for many farm businesses,” Ms Batters said.

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“We have worked closely with Defra and other stakeholders across the environmental and farming sectors over the last two years to ensure the Agriculture Bill was fit for purpose.

“It is hugely disappointing that we now find ourselves in a position where a delay is necessary.”

The union leader said the NFU remains committed to working with partners to develop a new system that will “underpin a sustainable farming system in the UK for decades to come”, but that this cannot reasonably be done when so 
much of the Government’s time and resource is focused on managing the Brexit process and the potential impact of no-deal.


The failure of the current Agriculture Bill comes after the Government did not present a motion to MPs to carry it over into the new Parliamentary session.

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As a result, a new version of the Bill needs to be reintroduced in the next Queen’s Speech and begin its legislative passage at the beginning of the process.

The original Bill, sponsored by former Environment Secretary Michael Gove, was introduced in Parliament last September but has been dogged by delays. In its current form, the Bill was awaiting a third reading.