The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hill Farming, chaired by Mr Farron, has agreed to lobby Government to continue BPS payments another three years until 2024.
Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has said farm payments are a ‘lifeline for farmers’ and should be extended another three years.
The Government plans to phase out Basic Payments (BPS) from 2021, and replace them with the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) from 2024, based on payments for delivering public goods.
But the South Lakes MP, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hill Farming, said the group had agreed to lobby Government to continue BPS payments another three years until 2024.
According to a first glimpse of England’s post-Brexit agricultural policy, seen by FG at the beginning of July, it looks like ELMS is unlikely to be ready until 2021, or more likely 2022.
This would be a year after farmers begin to lose their BPS cash and would leave the industry in the dark about what exactly would be on offer from the Government until the last moment.
It is feared farmers will drop out of old agri-environment schemes without re-joining new ones to focus on their core business in uncertain times.
NFU uplands forum chairman Thomas Binns said: “Farmers are still facing substantial uncertainty over their future from continuing Brexit delays to uncertainty about our future trade policy.
“As a result, farmer confidence continues to slip, particularly among hill farmers. Until there is certainty, it is absolutely necessary to delay the Government’s planned transition of payment schemes.
“This is a particularly critical set of issues for farming in the uplands and we now need to build farmer confidence back up – delaying the move to a new system of payments is a sensible, necessary decision that Government should take.”
George Dunn, chief executive of the Tenant Farmers Association added: “With the Agriculture Bill currently stalled, uncertainty about how and when we will leave the EU, and what our trading position will be when we do, it makes sense to buy more time before we make major changes to policy.”
CLA president Tim Breitmeyer agreed, adding it was ‘difficult to see how a move away from the Basic Payment Scheme can start with any credibility’.
It came as Jo Swinson became the new leader of the Liberal Democrats on Monday (July 22).