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Defra Secretary Michael Gove’s speech at the Oxford Farming Conference has given everyone in the UK farming industry pause for thought. Brexit is the biggest issue facing UK agriculture today, so it is encouraging to see actual policy being laid out by the Defra Secretary.

What will happen to BPS?

He set out a Post-Brexit green vision for UK agriculture that included a statement about the future of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS):

”The guaranteed income should provide time for farmers to change their business model if necessary, help to make the investment necessary for any adjustments and prepare for the future. We will also look at ways to support farmers who may choose to leave the industry.”

“After the transition, we will replace BPS with a system of public money for public goods – particularly environmental enhancement, productivity enhancement, reforming land-based education and bringing research work and farm practice close together.”

BPS payments are scheduled to remain at current levels until 2022, as was outlined in the Tory manifesto, when a transition period will begin as the new system comes in. Gove assures farmers that the next few years of guaranteed income will ensure that they will remain supported and able to make the necessary changes to adapt to the new system.

Green post-Brexit vision

The green aspects of the Defra Secretary’s new plan have been highlighted; rewarding farmers for making progress on such areas as environmental, productivity, research and land reform. Depending on how well this is implemented, this could have a very positive on the sustainability of the environment and the farming industry. In his own words:

“If we want to preserve that which we cherish – a thriving agriculture sector, a healthy rural economy, beautiful landscapes, rich habitats for wildlife a just society and a fair economy – then we need to be able to shape change rather than resist it.“

The Defra Secretary also pledged to reduce the bureaucracy associated with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and Countryside Stewardship schemes by making sure that application forms take no longer than a working day to fill out. As well as that, a more integrated farm inspection process would ensure more valuable results and less box-ticking.

Sarah Baker, Senior Analyst at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (ADHB) reacted positively, saying:

“Gove’s speech reinforces AHDB’s message that change is coming to our industry. He has clearly signalled his intention to move away from direct payments towards a new approach of public money for public goods.”

She goes on to talk about the importance of helping farmers prepare for upcoming changes, and at Primetics we believe this to be absolutely crucial. Brexit is the biggest change on the horizon for UK farming and it is essential that agribusinesses of all sizes are properly prepared for what changes are coming.

Whether this preparation involves making sure that your business makes the necessary changes to your environmental policy or streamlining your processes to make sure you can handle any stress or strains, it is important to get the ball rolling as soon as possible.

For more information about how Primetics solutions will help your agribusiness prepare for the future, please do not hesitate to call a member of the team on 01257 279 811, or email primetics@culturatech.com.