Your farm, your future

Well, let us hope that we have seen the last of the white stuff for this winter and that Spring is finally on its way. Whilst an inconvenience for most people, my thoughts were with those struggling to look after livestock in the atrocious conditions. One big positive was the numerous reports of farmers assisting those in need. A timely reminder that farmers don’t just produce food and look after the countryside, but that they are also vital to the rural community.

A minor casualty of the Beast from the East was a seminar that Sintons was co-hosting at Hexham Mart. We were working with Armstrong Watson and Barclays, and the seminar was entitled “Your Farm, Your Future”. I was poised to deliver a truly wondrous talk on what we didn’t know about the future and what legal steps should be taken to protect oneself from the general lack of knowledge. Then Defra launched its consultation on future farm policy………

Luckily, as most of the content was hardly a surprise, it did not completely torpedo my talk and we were able to record a “webinar” to ensure that the effort was not wasted. The webinar can be found on the Sintons website.

For those who may prefer a paper approach, or perhaps a taster, below I have tried to provide a very brief synopsis.

  • Change is coming. Embrace it. Don’t resist it.
  • UK farmers will still benefit from CAP until 2020 IF the UK & EU agree a post Brexit transition period of c2 years.
  • The farm budget will remain as is until 2022 IF the Government lasts that long.
  • “Large” direct payments will be capped from 2020, with the view to moving £150m to agri-environment schemes in Year 1. Those receiving more than £25,000 could be affected.
  • Over time, direct payments will be reduced to zero and all payments will be for the provision of public goods. The timescale is unknown, as is the final total budget but it is likely to be a great deal less than the current total.
  • Upland farming will be supported, but there is no detail on what that may look like.
  • Currently there is a large difference in the performance of the top 25% of farms and the “average” farm. There is no future in being “average”.
  • Time to restructure the business?
  • Time for succession?
  • Any new farming agreements must accommodate at least two different support systems, perhaps more.
  • With little detail on the future, new agreements must be able to consider all options, including such things as dual use, entitlements, headage payments etc
  • Written Partnership Agreements, Wills and Power of Attorneys are even more essential.

I trust that that gives you a flavour but do take a look at the webinar.

If you would like any further information or to discuss any rural related matter, please contact Tom Wills, head of the agriculture & estates department at Sintons.

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