The government has published more details of its advisory initiative to help farmers make the transition from EU farm subsidy towards the new UK agricultural support system. It has allocated a £10.7 million Future Farming Resilience Fund to help farmers and land managers over the seven-year transition period from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).
The advice will be delivered through nineteen organisations: the AHDB; Berrys; Brown & Co; the Bury Beet Group; Ceres Rural; Devon County Council; DJM Consulting; JH Agri Consultancy; Kite Consulting; the Landworkers Alliance; Laurence Gould Partnership; M B Hodgson & Son; Natural Enterprise; NIAB; Promar International; Ricardo-AEA; RSK ADAS; the SRUC and the Prince’s Countryside Fund.
The support is available free of charge from August 2021 to March 2022. Any farmer or land manager currently in receipt of BPS is eligible to apply.
The eight-month programme aims to help farmers and landowners understand the changes in agricultural policy; recognise where business models may need to be changed; and to access tailored support to address these changes. Government says that lessons learned from this initial phase will inform the design of a final phase available from 2022-2024.
The AHDB has secured £3.9m of the Future Farming Resilience Fund. It intends to use a new farm business review tool to help around 4,000 cereals and oilseed growers and grazing livestock producers in England fully understand the implications of lost direct payments and how the income can be replaced.
The levy board will provide national co-ordination of a service delivered through a network of local agricultural advisers and consultants. The AHDB plans to offer further one-to-one tailored support to 600 of those participating on a first come, first served basis. This will include Full Farm Benchmarking, Environment and Carbon Auditing and an Agribusiness Appraisal.
“Our research has shown that 76% of beef and sheep farmers and 67% cent of cereal growers are not planning on making changes in the face of current policy changes or are adopting a wait-and-see approach,” advises AHDB head of business, insights and skills Steve Dunkley. “This funding will enable us to help 4,000 farmers and growers take a proactive approach to the biggest policy shift that they will face in their careers.
“We are particularly keen to work with those businesses that are perhaps more reliant on direct payments and more likely to be impacted by the loss of subsidies. We can help them assess the potential impact of the changes, work out how to address the challenges and put in place a succession plan for the future.”
Defra has already unveiled its Sustainable Farming Incentive 2022, the first of three Environmental Land Management Schemes, which will enable farmers able to access up to £70 per hectare for soil improvement measures; a Farming in Protected Landscapes programme for farmers in England’s National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty; and a consultation on a lump sum exit scheme and delinked payments.