Concerns raised over new farm strategy

“You can’t be green if you are in the red,” said NFU Somerset chairman and farmer Tom Kimber in response to the government’s new farming strategy which was announced on Monday.

Farmers in North Dorset are facing the biggest shift in farming policy for 50 years after the Path to Sustainable Farming strategy was unveiled by Environment Secretary George Eustace to reward farmers who tackle climate change.

The new strategy will replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy on December 31st and immediately will see the phasing out of the biggest farming grant, the Basic Payment Scheme. Tom, who is primarily a dairy farmer, but also has pigs, beef and turkeys on his family farm in Charlton Musgrove explained: “The government

want to tackle issues like climate change, loss of habitats and species and it is vital farmers can stay in business to be able to do these things, however farms need to remain profitable to deliver.

“Our main priority is to produce food. If we have viable businesses then we can do both.”

Salisbury farmer and President of the NFU, Minette Batters, who represents farmers across the country has raised concerns about significant falls in income. She said: “These payments have been a lifeline for many farmers especially when prices or growing conditions have been volatile and will be very difficult

to replace in the first four years of this transition.
“Can Ministers be sure that new schemes will be available at scale to deliver redirected BPS payments?

“Take livestock farmers for example, who we project will have lost between 60 and 80 per cent of their income by 2024 as a result of these reductions. “What changes will Defra make to ensure that the new Environmental Land Management schemes offer rewards that provide a genuine income for their businesses while maintaining food production? Expecting farmers to run viable, high-cost regulatory farm businesses, continue to produce food and increase their environmental delivery, while phasing out existing support and without a complete replacement scheme for almost three years is high risk and a very big ask.”

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