Defra have released a consultation Direct payments to farmers: Lump sum exit scheme and delinked payments in England and we are asking for members and supporters to respond to the consultation to ensure that these schemes support new entrants and CSA farmers too.
Defra are proposing that in 2022, farmers who want to exit the industry can receive a one-off ‘lump sum’ to surrender their Direct Payments to retire from farming. And in 2024, ‘delink’ Direct Payments from the land so that farmers will no longer have to farm to receive payments and can free up the land.
This could be a real opportunity for new entrants into farming with new land becoming available, however there is a risk that without robust criteria any land made available could be consolidated by other large landowners or be subject to poor or harmful land management practices.
As members and partners to Sustain and the Landworkers’ Alliance we have signed up as a joint signatory to their consultation response.
In summary their recommendations are:
- A clear set of criteria with a robust mechanism must be integrated into the scheme to ensure that any land made newly available under Delinking or Lump Sum is prioritised for new entrants and land-based social enterprise.
- Whilst delinking payments from the land is the objective, conditions need to be built into both schemes so that farmland is not environmentally degraded or damaged.
- Any land prioritised for new entrants should be linked to the New Entrant Support Scheme and have clear channels of support attached. These should cover access to finance, markets, training and mentorship, as well as the opportunity to purchase or co-use farm machinery in land transference.
We as a network will also respond to the consultation and add our voice. We will use the Landworkers’ Alliance and Sustain response but also add extra points relevant to the CSA Network that you may wish to add to your own response:
- Farms under five hectares have not been eligible for Direct Payments. Farm businesses under five hectares and those not in receipt of BPS should be eligible for the Delinked Payments and Lump Sum schemes to make room for other small-scale farms and make smaller and more affordable blocks of land available for new entrants.
- New entrants should be supported to set up farm businesses under five hectares with the option for larger plots to be shared by several smaller farms or CSAs. CSA farms which are both successful and viable farm businesses who host numerous benefits for the local community and environment (see more here), are on average two and a half hectares in size.
- Land should remain agricultural and farming businesses who practice agroecological or environmentally beneficial farming prioritised.
Respond to the consultation response before the 11th August
Use the Landworkers’ Alliance and Sustain template consultation response
- The Landworkers’ Alliance have a helpful webpage explaining the two schemes intended to replace Direct Payments with more information on how to get involved here
- Landworkers’ Alliance and Sustain consultation response to use as a template
- Defra consultation details document