THE Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has written to rural MPs calling on them to put pressure on the Government for a much-needed delay in the transition away from Direct Payments.

It says farmers and land managers need transition delayed by at least 12 months, not just because it’s the biggest change in funding for the countryside in almost 50 years, but due to the unprecedented amount of disruption and damage caused by Covid-19.

This delay would also give the Government enough time to implement a Business Adaptation Programme, which the CLA says should provide funding for advice, training and grants for buildings, equipment and infrastructure to bolster sustainable and profitable farming objectives.

CLA president Mark Bridgeman said: “It was already clear that the transition from direct payments needed to be delayed before COVID-19 struck. But now a delay is surely the sensible course of action.

“It is crucial the UK Government ensures a fair transition is implemented, with enough time and information to allow individual businesses to make the right choices. The reduction in BPS should be delayed by at least a year, until there is greater clarity on what farmers will be transitioning too.

“While the new Environment Land Management scheme (ELM) will offer opportunities, it’s still unclear how this system will work in practice and what it will mean for individual farmers.”