Agricultural Bill 2020

How will it impact farmers?

The government published a new version of The Agricultural Bill last week which is expected to go through without amendment and become an act of parliament. The original bill fell by the wayside last autumn amidst the Brexit and political chaos at the time.

The key points of the bill are:

  1. The 2020 BPS payments will remain unchanged.
  2. The phasing out of direct payments (BPS) from 2021 to 2027.  The % deductions for 2021 have been set at 5% for the first £30,000 of claim / 10% for the element of claim between £30,000 to £50,000 / 20% for £50,000 to £150,000 and 25% for any element of claim over £150,000.
  3. Reduction %’s are still to be confirmed for later years.
  4. Future Payments to be “de linked” from any requirements to farm the land, albeit timescale to be confirmed.
  5. Consideration to be given to offering farmers a one-off lump sum instead or receiving any further direct payments – details to be confirmed.
  6. Farmers to be paid in the future via Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMs).  Countryside Stewardship Schemes will continue to be available until ELMs are in place. This will not be a subsidy.  It will be awarding public money in return from providing public goods in the form of environmental benefits.
  7. Farmers to have greater access to supply chain data to help them make better decisions and be in a better position for negotiations with processors and retailers.
  8. The government will be able to intervene with grants/loans/guarantees for example when there is severe disturbance in agricultural markets from such things as adverse weather, disease etc.
  9. There are likely to be further financial rewards from providing enhanced animal welfare above the legal baseline. These measures are still to be confirmed.
  10. Funds may also be made available to support research and development projects that enable more efficient and sustainable food production, again details to be confirmed.
  11. Further reform of “traditional agricultural tenancies” under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986.  This will be the subject of a further news article from us.

The Bill is primarily a piece of enabling legislation with the language used saying what “may” happen rather that what the government “will” do in certain areas and as such there is still a great deal that we do not know the detail of.

What the Bill does tell us however is that subsidy support as farmers have known it will disappear and access to public funds and what farmers will have to do in return will be more challenging. The expected financial pressures that will result will be felt across the whole farming and land management industry. The future holds challenges for all and opportunities for some with the need for good advice along the way being ever more important.

See our Fit For Farming flyer attached and call our Rural Team on 01285 883740, without any commitment, to see if we can help you.


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Mrs Tucker June 2020

I have been seriously impressed with your team at Butler Sherborn. Karen and Vanessa have been incredibly helpful and efficient, so huge thanks from me.
— Mrs Tucker, June 2020