January 18, 2022

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Without CAP, English farmers would have to work harder

The British government has announced two new subsidy schemes for farmers and landowners. These post-Brexit plans change the plans of the European Union. As agriculture was decentralized in the United Kingdom, these declarations were mainly related to English lands.

The goal is to put 60% of the UK’s agricultural soil under sustainable management by 2030 and restore up to 300,000 hectares of wildlife habitat by 2042, while helping the country pursue the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

Unlike the function of the first pillar General agricultural policyIn the European Union (80% of subsidies), these payments are no longer calculated on the basis of the amount of land used by farmers, but only on concrete, pro-environmental measures. “The government considers direct payments to farmers to be a bad way to spend public money, so it’s willing to support actions that contribute to the public good,” explains Joe Marshall, a researcher on the government think tank.

The first project, called Local Nature Recovery, was to finance wildlife habitats for farmers who had natural space in the fields, for example, by planting trees or reclaiming land and wetlands. The second plan aims to support drastic changes in land use and habitat restoration, such as land reclamation, the creation of new natural reserves, the creation of floods or forests and wetlands.

These two schemes, which aim to pay farmers to contribute to the common good by helping to protect quality water, biodiversity and animal health, are in addition to their responsibility to encourage farmers to adopt sustainable production practices that began in early December.

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Pilots. All of these schemes (Environmental Land Management Plan, ELMS) are to be implemented over a period of seven years, during which the UK Government will continue to pay farmers in the same pattern as CAP. Pilots have now been launched, and full ELMS will be available from 2024.

According to data from the House of Commons, British farmers received 3.5 3.5 billion in 2018 from the European Union. “The government has promised to distribute the same amount of money until the end of its mandate in 2024,” Joe Marshall insists. But even if farmers in the EU are paid to run their business, they will have to make more of the equivalent income through this scheme. Nevertheless, the researcher believes that farmers are not opposed to this new method. “Agricultural lobbies support the idea that public money should promote the public good,” he says.

In practice alone, this new agrarian policy will be less virtuous than it appears. “Environmental protection associations already believe that the government has watered down its ambition and that farmers can recover subsidies without making major changes,” the researcher continues. The companies also hope that some farmers will intensify their production to offset the subsidy loss. According to the expert, tensions between farmers and environmental activists should grow when these new projects come into effect.