Agricultural expert Fisher German is advising that farm businesses will require strategic advice more than ever in the coming years after the Agriculture Bill was introduced to Parliament.
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, has introduced the Agriculture Bill which provides the basis for future farming policy post Brexit. The legislation looks to deliver an environmentally-focused form of agricultural support for future generations after nearly half a century under EU rules.
Fisher German has welcomed the Bill but cautions that further details need to be understood before the impact on businesses can be assessed, adding that advice on the future structure and direction of agricultural businesses will be essential as further details emerge.
David Kinnersley, of Fisher German, said: “It is very positive to see the Agriculture Bill introduced to parliament so that the shape of the post Brexit England farm policy can be seen.There has been little detail on this before now, so the Bill gives businesses something more tangible to assess and a timeline to work to. Agricultural policy is devolved, so today’s announcement is primarily relating to future English legislation. There is a great deal of detail which will determine what are appropriate actions to take, and there is still the unresolved matter of post Brexit trade arrangements which will arguably have a greater long term impact.
Some of the key points we can take from the Bill include the phasing out of direct payments over the seven years from 2020 to 2027 and de-linking them from the requirement to farm land which is seen as a route to enable farmers to use the income to prepare for the demise of direct payments. This may be to fund retirement, investment or diversification and could facilitate new entrants. It also details the introduction of the new Environment Land Management system from 2019 which will be developed to reward farmers and landowners for environmental benefits.The proposals also include measures to increase productivity and investment, for example on soil health and sustainable livestock farming.
The overall direction of the policy, away from direct farm payments and towards public benefits, has been long debated and widely expected. It presents opportunities as well as threats for different businesses but the detail of the policy and funds available will be required before more can be said at this stage.However it is clear that good strategic advice on the future structure and direction of agricultural businesses will be needed more than ever over the coming years.”