Farmers could benefit from an overhaul of the farm subsidy scheme which would see recipients paid on a monthly basis.
Farming Minister George Eustice said he wanted to move away from an annual application process for farm payments and would prefer to see a simplified system where farmers could enrol and then be ‘automatically rewarded’.
CLA Policy Director Christopher Price gave the comments a cautiously optimistic reception, saying:
“Anything that introduces greater flexibility into the system without adding greater complexity is to be welcomed.”
Speaking at a meeting organised by the Conservative Rural Affairs Group, Mr Eustice said flexibility would be a key priority as a new agricultural policy began to take shape, citing the Nitrates Directive as an example of EU rigidity.
He would like to be able to pilot new ideas without being tied to them for long periods if they do not prove effective.
Catchment sensitive farming to manage soil and water quality was also high on his agenda - he wanted different areas to take different approaches which suit their needs.
Any new UK policy – and he confirmed there would be a single agricultural policy which includes agri-environmental elements – would be likely to see a move away from special designations and towards ‘good stewardship’.
Mr Eustice said he was keen to hear ‘creative ideas’ from grass-roots farmers as well as leading farming and non-governmental organisations.