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Government guarantees same level of farm subsidies until 2020

The UK Government has said it will guarantee the same level of EU funding for agriculture until 2020.


Olivia   Midgley

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Olivia   Midgley
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On Saturday (August 13), Chancellor Philip Hammond announced key rural development and agri-environment schemes will be given the green light alongside a guarantee on basic payments.

 

CAP subsidies are currently worth about £3 billion to UK farm businesses.

 

Mr Hammond said this would end the uncertainty for farmers following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

 

The move has been welcomed by the farming unions, who said it would deliver some longer term confidence to the sector.

 

However, no guarantees have been made as to what funding will be available after 2020.

 

Assurances to farmers expected to be set out by the Treasury include:

  • Agri-environment and rural development schemes signed or with agreements in place before Autumn Statement will be fully funded, even when these projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.
  • The current level of agricultural funding under CAP Pillar 1 will be upheld until 2020, as part of the transition to new domestic arrangements.

A spokesman for the Treasury said: "As a result, British farmers will now be able to plan further into the future, and will be able to press ahead with agreements to help protect the countryside and environment."

 

It comes after Farmers Guardian reported industry concerns over the future of schemes such as countryside stewardship. Read more here.

 

"Alongside this, key rural development schemes including the Growth Programme and Countryside Productivity scheme will also ensure the continued economic development of rural areas," the spokesman added.

 

These schemes are funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development – CAP Pillar 2, which forms part of the European Structural and Investment Funds.

 

They are therefore expected to be covered by the same assurances the Treasury will set out for the structural and investment funds.

 

Devolved nations

 

The agricultural sectors in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to each receive the same level of funding that they would have under CAP Pillar 1 until the end of the Multiannual Financial Framework in 2020.

 

Defra Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “This guarantee of funding is excellent news for our farmers and our environment.

“It means hard-working farmers are assured of current levels of funding until 2020 and any agri-environment schemes agreed before the Autumn Statement will be fully funded - even when these projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.

“I’m delighted we can provide this crucial certainty and continuity to our rural communities while we develop a new approach to supporting agriculture and protecting our precious countryside."

 

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: "We’ve been emphasising to the Government at all levels that the success of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector - food and drink–worth £108 billion to the UK economy, is underpinned by the farming sector. With the agricultural budget now retained and agri-environment agreements and BPS payments now honoured, I am delighted that the Prime Minister and Defra have understood the importance of farming and food production.”

 

Stability

 

NFU Scotland chief executive Scott Walker added: "Today’s guarantee will provide an anchor of stability in uncertain times and ensure that there is a confident platform on which to negotiate future trading and domestic support arrangements.

 

“Knowing that the funding to farmers and crofters will continue allows us now to look at what sort of future agricultural policy would best suit Scotland.

 

“As Government negotiates the UK’s exit from the European Union and develops its new relationship with the EU, we now need to ensure that future deals on tariffs and market access ensure that we have a strong and vibrant domestic farming industry."

 

The National Trust agreed farmers needed certainty to move forward with environmental projects.

 

A spokesman added: “We welcome the Government’s decision to continue with funding for newly agreed and existing agri-environment schemes. But set against this is the continued uncertainty should new applications be restricted beyond this autumn.

 

"This would put at serious risk decades of effort by farmers and organisations like ours to protect and enhance our countryside."

 


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