OXFORD, England (Reuters) – Britain will solely pay public funds to farmers who present public advantages akin to wildlife habitats or improved soil high quality underneath a post-Brexit shake-up in agricultural insurance policies introduced on Thursday.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who spoke at two farming conferences in Oxford, additionally mentioned the government would “look at ways to support farmers who may choose to leave the industry.”
British farming is about for a radical overhaul after the nation leaves the European Union in March 2019, when, for the primary time in many years, the nation will have an opportunity to create its personal agricultural coverage.
Farmers in Britain will have to compete for government funds with departments akin to well being and training as soon as Brussels arms over the purse strings for farming budgets to London.
Under the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), British farmers obtain about three billion kilos ($four billion) a 12 months in public funds.
Gove, who criticized the CAP’s “fundamentally flawed design”, estimated that round 80 % of the funding was based mostly on the scale of farmers’ productive agricultural land.
“I think that money is poorly spent. Ultimately public money should go towards people who are thinking hard and working hard in order to ensure our environment is enhanced,” he mentioned.
“If we are going to have 3 billion pounds spent then that money should be an investment in the future rather than an incentive to carry on just as people have been doing.”
The new coverage introduced by Gove will apply solely in England, after a transition interval. Policies could differ in Scotland and Wales the place devolved administrations management farm spending.
WARNING ON WORKFORCE
Gove mentioned the present system of area-based funding, generally known as the essential cost scheme (BPS), would proceed over a transition interval in England after Britain leaves the EU to present farmers sufficient time to vary their business mannequin if essential.
“After the transition, we will replace BPS with a system of public money for public goods,” he mentioned.
Gove mentioned BPS funds could proceed till the top of 2024 though they might be diminished in England “either through a straight cap at the maximum level or through a sliding scale of reductions, to the largest payments first.”
On common, British farmers get about 15,000 kilos a 12 months from direct funds and an EU rural growth fund. For some, direct funds account for 70 % of their revenue. But a big chunk goes to rich people who are massive landowners.
Gove additionally warned farms and meals corporations that rely closely on migrant labor whereas saying the government would pursue a “flexible migration policy overall.”
“Industries which come to rely on importing cheap labor run the risk of failing to invest in the innovation required to become genuinely more productive,” he mentioned.
“Labour-intensive production inevitably lags behind capital intensive production.”
Since the June 2016 British vote to go away the EU, some farmers have reported difficulties in recruiting sufficient employees.
Gove mentioned the British government would supply extra particulars of its future agricultural coverage in a doc to be printed within the spring.
($1 = zero.7384 kilos)
Reporting by Nigel Hunt; Editing by Adrian Croft