The NFU has called for farmers in England to keep at least 30 per cent of their direct payments after Brexit.
The union’s president, Minette Batters, said the extreme weather events of the past few years had shown support would continue to be needed after the UK leaves the EU in order to manage volatility.
The proposal would see different levels of direct support maintained depending on the trade relationships the UK negotiates with the EU and other countries, and the money would be managed outside of the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) designed to replace the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
Speaking to Farmers Guardian at Oxford Farming Conference today (January 8), Ms Batters said: “At the very least, we should look to maintain 30 per cent of direct support.
“Defra may decide that actually looking at it sector by sector, there are going to be different trading impacts, but it would be completely wrong and immoral if the NFU right across the UK was not looking at stability and managing risk.
“We cannot allow Government to step into a world of public money for public goods without dealing with the primary duty, which is earning a fair return for what we are selling into the marketplace and making sure we can manage risk in challenging weather events like we have seen over the past two years.”
As part of its domestic agriculture policy, unveiled in 2017, the NFU proposed a ‘three-legged stool’ approach which would encompass environmental benefits, productivity and managing volatility.
But it has since remained fairly quiet on the need to retain some kind of direct support, in stark contrast to its sister organisation, NFU Cymru, which has lobbied strongly with the FUW to keep some form of basic payment to maintain stability.
As a result, the Welsh Government has promised to delay the phase-out of BPS twice, but Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers was adamant there would be no postponement in England.
During her speech at the conference, she said the transition will begin in 2021 as planned, and the Agriculture Bill would be passed by April in order to get the ball rolling.