NFU calls for delay to farm support changes after Agriculture Bill falls

The NFU is calling for the Government to delay its planned phasing out of farm support payments, after the Government’s decision not to carry forward the current version of the Agriculture Bill into the next session of Parliament.

Farm support payments were due to be phased out from 2021 but NFU president Minette Batters has said it is ‘unreasonable’ to continue to plan for the phasing out of the current system on the present timetable.

Mrs Batters 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.”

Mrs Batter added: “The proposed new system was based on the UK leaving the EU in an orderly fashion in March 2019, entering a stable transition period for at least two years. That is obviously now a distant memory. 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 provides such important stability for many farm businesses.

“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.”

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