Post-Brexit UK to shift farm payments to protect environment

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Britain is revamping its farm policy to focus on environment-friendly agriculture.

Under the new policy, around 210 million US dollars will be shifted from payment to rich farmers towards environment schemes post-Brexit.

Britain’s farming and environment minister Michael Gove told BBC “it’s been the case in the past that we have put too much emphasis on trying to generate a form of farming that is neglectful of the environment.

“Now the balance has shifted… and this command paper today backs farmers who want to do the right thing. We’re not going to give you money simply on the basis that you’ve already got a big estate,” he said.

 Farmers currently receive income support through the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) which is based on the amount of land a farmer owns, not how much they produce.

The consultation is seeking views on how to gradually phase out the payments, starting with the largest landowners. The range of public goods that could qualify for funding includes high animal welfare standards, wildlife protection, public access and new technologies.

“As we leave the EU, we have a historic opportunity to deliver a farming policy which works for the whole industry,” Gove said in a statement.

“Today we are asking for the views of those who will be affected to make sure we get this right so any future schemes reflect the reality of life for farmers and food producers.”

Britain’s government has committed to maintaining the current level of farm spending to the end of this parliament in 2022. The distribution of those funds can, however, change.

The consultation paper only covers England. Agriculture in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the devolved administrations of those states.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said there would be a transition period between the two systems, during which time either a cap would be placed on the largest payments, or they would be gradually reduced, with higher earners facing larger reductions, BBC reported.

Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019.

(With inputs from agencies)

Source(s): Reuters
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