Abolishing direct payments completely will force farmers in England to quit the industry, Labour’s Shadow Defra Secretary Luke Pollard has warned.
Mr Pollard said farmers in Scotland, where the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) is to be kept in place until 2024, would have more certainty to move across to environmental schemes in future.
Speaking at an NFU fringe event at the online Labour Party conference this week (September 21), the Shadow Minister suggested Government needed to provide the ‘groundwork’ to support farmers during transition.
“The safety net that the continuation of direct payments provides for farmers in Scotland and Wales, for instance, will I think provide a bit more certainty to enable farmers to jump into some of those Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes with a bit more thought,” he said.
“In England, you have to do it or you are going to get nothing, and that worries me. When you apply the trade situation on top of that, farmers, especially those which are facing difficult times, will think this type of farming carries too much risk for me.
“I worry about how many farmers are going to be put out of business and how many farmers are going to exit, because the risk of what is coming is too big for them.”
In Wales, the Labour Government has agreed to delay the phase-out of BPS twice, with farmers now guaranteed to receive payments in 2021.
NFU Cymru president John Davies said: “The direct payment regime should continue to provide stability and address volatility, until revised measures which deliver the same or better outcomes have been developed, modelled and are fully operational.”