The UK’s divorce from the European Union has led to a wave of uncertainty for the agricultural sector, as key subsidy payments previously received from Brussels are being dramatically remodelled by the Government.
Landmark legislation in the UK will shape the future of farming after the ties with the EU were finally severed at the start of this year, providing payments for tackling climate change, maintaining landscapes, improving public access and boosting animal welfare.
However, new transitional payments, which are being paid out before a new subsidy system is launched by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2024, had been governed by strict controls to ensure that the allocated funding was spent by the end of each financial year.
But Ministers have relented to allow some of the funding from this financial year to be reallocated to the next two years after fears were voiced that there was not enough time to get schemes in place, and farmers would miss out on payments.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s chief executive, David Butterworth, said the transitional subsidies are even more important for the upland farming sector, which has traditionally operated on often paper-thin financial margins.
“The funding was incredibly welcome but there were some very real concerns that – with details of the programme only being announced in June – farmers wouldn’t have enough time to submit applications and complete the projects by the deadline of March, meaning that a lot of the money would be lost back to the Treasury,” he said.
“So, we’re delighted that the Government has agreed that the funding allocated for this year can be carried over into 2022-23.
“That will allow farmers time to really think about the long-term future of their business, and for us to help them to turn their great ideas into reality.”
There are nearly 1,100 farms spread across the 841 square miles of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, which was established in 1954, and many of the enterprises are located in upland areas.
The Government has unveiled a fund for the 10 National Parks and 34 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England amid the transition away from EU subsidies.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority was awarded £1.2m under the Farming in Protected Landscapes scheme in this financial year, and any unspent cash can now be carried over to 2022-23.
The fund was set up ahead of the launch of the Environment Land Management Scheme in 2024 to reward farmers for protecting land, water and air as well as initiatives to support plants and wildlife.