Most of us will start the second month of 2021 with our pockets significantly lightened having paid our self-assessment tax liability covering both the balancing payment for 2019/2020 tax year and first instalment due in respect of the 2020/2021 tax year.
And to cheer us up the weather continues to provide a never ending supply of water.
But on a positive note the days are beginning to draw out and that is always a good feeling as we head towards spring. Let’s hope this will bring with it some drier weather so we can all get back out on the land to undertake those all-important jobs to get back on track.
The closing weeks of 2020 saw two hugely significant events for the industry with the Agriculture Act becoming law in November and the UK EU trade deal receiving Royal Assent from the Queen at 12:25am on New Year’s Eve. After such a tumultuous period, anyone involved with agriculture would be forgiven for yearning a period of calm.
However, continued change looks set to be the only certainty as we enter 2021. Following on from the Agriculture Act 2020, UK post-Brexit agricultural policy continues to be developed and refined with the release of DEFRA’s “The Path to Sustainable Farming: An Agricultural Transition Plan 2021 to 2024”. Meanwhile it has recently been announced that another piece of landmark legislation, the Environment Bill, is to be delayed once again into the next Parliamentary session with Royal Assent now expected in the autumn of 2021.
So whilst some issues start to become resolved, many others remain ambiguous and buzzwords such as transition, uncertainty, environmental delivery, achieving net zero, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, ELMS, sustainability, simplification, streamlining, fit for purpose, resilience, etc. will remain the currency of webinars and the industry press in 2021.
Perhaps, another thing is certain. These changes are more than political hype and they seem set to change agricultural practice and farming business models far into the future.
Of course farmers will welcome the fact that at long last sustainable agricultural practices should hopefully be rewarded and incentivised. However, being financially successful will depend on understanding how these new policies will affect their businesses and being quick to adapt.
Let’s hope that the decision makers (and their advisers) drafting these new policies will bring them together in a cohesive plan showing the same leadership that Kate Bingham has shown in securing the vaccines to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
The next step
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