A top agricultural lawyer has said the delinked payments promised in the Agriculture Bill ‘will not see the light of day’.
Under the terms of the legislation, the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will be replaced by delinked annual payments for all farmers from as early as 2022.
Ministers have suggested this will send a clear signal that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is being left behind, and said it will give farmers greater flexibility to plan for the future because they can choose how to spend the money received.
But speaking on Farmers Guardian’s latest Ploughing Through Brexit podcast, Julie Robinson, partner at Roythornes Solicitors, claimed the Government would rethink its plans to abandon cross-compliance once the realities of allowing people to ‘waltz off into the sunset’ with payouts worth thousands became clear.
“I will put my neck on the line on this – I do not think they will see the light of day,” she said.
“The minute you set a reference period which gives you a right to cash in payments, you have got all sorts of difficulties – like what if somebody dies or if they sold land.
“[Cross compliance] will feature in future schemes because it is a very useful way of policing hedgerow removal or footpaths, rather than relying on local authorities to do it.
“The risk is [delinked payments] take money out of the very sector you are wanting to encourage to produce food, because someone could take the money and retire, and a new entrant comes in or a neighbouring farmer and has to deal with that holding without payments other people are getting for the short period they are available.
“I really cannot see it happening to be honest.”
NFU vice president Stuart Roberts, who joined Ms Robinson as a guest on the podcast, also warned there were many ‘unanswered questions’ about the proposals, particularly around the tax implications of taking a lump sum payment.