THE CLA is pleased that the Agriculture Bill is back after an extensive delay, but is calling for urgent clarity from Government on transition.

The Agriculture Bill, which has been released today (Jan 16), sets out how farmers and land managers would be paid in a system of payments for public goods, and support for profitable and sustainable farming.

CLA President Mark Bridgeman said: “This is welcome news after a year of political stalemate.”

The transition period is set to begin from 2021, but the delay in the Bill and the lack of clarity of how direct payments will be removed during the transition period means there is still much uncertainty among farmers and land managers.

The seven-year transition period will see the removal of direct payments, which have been the mainstay of support for many years, and a move to the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) that will only be fully available from late 2024 under current plans.

Northumberland-based Mr Bridgeman added: “However, the Government should allow proper time for farmers and land managers to adjust and adapt, ideally by delaying the start of the transition by 12 months. This would allow farmers to make long term plans, once the details become clearer about both the crucial trade deal and future schemes.

“We warmly welcome guarantees of funding for the lifetime of this Parliament, but farmers need to know how it affects them personally. Government should set out the profile of the transition and how ELMS will work in detail as a matter of urgency and guarantee that there will be no delays in its implementation.”

CLA director North Dorothy Fairburn said: “We welcome the Government’s commitment to reduce the tangles of red tape currently smothering farmers when applying for Government support. Let’s hope they deliver on this.”

The CLA is supportive of the shift towards payment for public goods which will reward all farmers and land managers who deliver for the environment and society.