English farmers are to be offered the chance to take several years’ worth of farm payments in a lump sum, even if they are no longer working the land.
The radical plans to hand out thousands of pounds worth of cash will be set out in the Agriculture Bill, due to be published later today.
Under the proposals, farmers will be able to bundle together a number of the farm payments they are due during the ‘agricultural transition’, which will begin in 2021 and end in 2027 - unless a future Government chooses to extend it.
Alternatively, these ‘delinked’ payments can be taken over the course of several years.
Ministers have suggested the golden parachute will allow farmers who want to retire but lack the money to do so to leave the land, opening up opportunities for new entrants.
The cash, expected to be distributed by the Rural Payments Agency, could also be used for on-farm investment or diversification activities.
George Dunn, chief executive of the Tenant Farmers’ Association, has previously argued for such a measure on Farmers Guardian’s Brexit hub.
He said: “The TFA is pleased to see the Government has decided to provide an option to consolidate direct payments as this will provide a helpful impetus to retirement, restructuring and succession planning.”
The CLA also welcomed the move. Director of policy and advice Christopher Price said: “Ensuring farmers who wish to exit the industry are able to do so is vitally important to allow new entrants to bring their ideas and drive to farming.
“Providing the option for farmers to receive lump sum payments in lieu of annual payments is one method to achieve this, which we support providing the payment is used for this purpose.
“However, measures such as introducing provisions to allow the building of new homes within existing farms to help free up farmhouses and get the next generation into the industry also have an important role to play.”
The Government intends to consult again on how to calculate and manage these payments. Working out a way to prevent recipients from spending the cash on leisure and luxury items will form part of this work.
For more information on the Agriculture Bill, click HERE.