Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Subsidies to stay for five years after Brexit

Farm subsidies will stay at their current levels (presumably without an inflation adjustment) for five years after Brexit, Michael Gove will announce today: Farm subsidies

After 2024 they will be replaced by a new system designed to secure environmental outcomes and support rural infrastructure. There is also reference to giving greater access to the countryside which may worry livestock farmers who already have problems with out of control dogs.

The extension of subsidies represents a considerable victory for the NFU and gives farmers more time to plan for the future. The downside is that it may lead them to delaying necessary adjustments to their businesses to prepare for a life without existing blanket support payments. It will create something of a 'cliff edge' in 2024. I have always been an advocate of tapering payments to facilitate adjustment.

The largest landowners may have their payments capped before 2024. The government has yet to make a decision on the cap, but it could be implemented using a sliding scale with the 3,500 farmers who receive more than £100,000 each annually getting a lower amount per hectare above a certain number of hectares.

Mr Gove is expected to tell the Oxford Farming Conference today: 'Paying landowners for the amount of agricultural land they have is unjust, unfair and drives perverse outcomes. It gives the most from the public purse to those who have the most private wealth.'

Mr Gove hopes that the UK will leave the CAP when Brexit happens in March 2019. Whether the UK remains a member of the CAP during the transition period is still a matter for negotiation. but most officials in London and Brussels believe that Britain will still be a member for a period of time after Brexit.

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