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How will farming fare post-Brexit?

PUBLISHED: 10:17 13 September 2017

Frank Smith, Frank Smith & Co Solicitors

Frank Smith, Frank Smith & Co Solicitors

Archant

Under the current CAP, £3billion is handed out to landowners in the UK every year, largely calculated on how much they farm, not how they farm

It looks like the EU’s Farming Subsidy Scheme under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be ditched in favour of a system that rewards farmers and landowners for protecting the countryside. This was confirmed in July by Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, who stated the CAP was too bureaucratic and that post-Brexit, any support system for farmers should put environmental protection first.

Under the current CAP, £3billion is handed out to landowners in the UK every year, largely calculated on how much they farm, not how they farm.

The Government has pledged to maintain the existing level of funding until 2022 but speaking on the subject, Mr Gove said the Government would only carry on “generously supporting farmers” after 2022 if environmental benefits of doing so were clear.

He said the UK should take the opportunity of Brexit to reward farmers for environmental protection. His vision for a post CAP scheme would include payments for woodland creation, habitat protection, caring for treasured landscapes and enhanced animal welfare.

Critics of CAP have long claimed that already wealthy landowners are given subsidies. The issue was highlighted recently when it emerged that taxpayers paid more than £400,000 to subsidise a farm owned by a billionaire Saudi Prince from which he bred racehorses.

During a debate on the subject, Mr Gove promised “a green Brexit” that gave no weakening of environment protection put in place by the EU. However, he stressed that Britain was more than capable of writing its own environmental protection laws and cited such EU scandals as the diesel emissions exposé as being inadequate.

Landowners have generally welcomed Mr Gove’s approach. The Country Land & Business Association (CLA) agreed it was right to reward landowners who manage land in ways that deliver public benefits. Caution came from the President of the National Farmers Union, Meurig Raymond, saying it was important to maintain current levels of public investment to keep farmers alive and competitive.

As the terms of Brexit unfold, no doubt there will be further debate on how farming subsidies should be replaced.

Frank Smith & Co Solicitors is a specialist law firm operating in the centre of Cheltenham. It has first-hand knowledge in advising landowning and farming families.

For information and advice on agricultural and property matters, please contact Frank Smith & Co Solicitors on 01242 801748 or visit our website.

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