What’s happening to farming subsidies post-Brexit?

11 August 2017

Ever since 23 June 2016, when we as a nation decided to depart the EU, a new word entered our vocabulary, which in equal measure sent shivers down the spine of just under half the electorate, whilst being a triumphant banner for just over half: Brexit. What does the word mean?

It means that is now down to our political masters to ensure that they maintain the labour market and at the same time extol the virtues of the British economy and exports to ensure stability. Not an easy task!

The secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, Michael Gove, has stepped into this mire with comments on subsidies that were designed to stabilise the rural and agricultural sector; but have they done that?

His comments, whilst still continuing the pledge to maintain the current level of European funding up to 2022, suggest that the funding will be more targeted. British farmers currently receive about £3 billion of subsidies per annum, and these are mostly but not entirely linked to the amount of land farmed. The suggestion is that for this level of payment, farmers should be looking towards ‘woodland creation, habitat protection, caring for treasured landscapes and higher animal welfare’.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) appears to support this by agreeing that the subsidy regime needs to be transformed and calls for ‘land management contracts’ to be put into place that manages the land to deliver public benefits.

I guess time will be the ultimate decider as to whether Mr Gove’s comments have had the desired effect and whether his actions as environment secretary have stabilised the sector, but until such time as actions take place, we will still be in a place of certain insecurity.

In the meantime, with the uncertainty that Brexit brings for farmers with regard to subsidies, it is more important than ever to ensure that all possible sources of assistance are explored. Read more about possible alternatives in one of our recent blogs: Rural grants and subsidies – where to turn after Brexit?

If you wish to discuss your farming queries then please contact me or your usual UHY adviser.