The CLA has published the first paper of its kind detailing a new mechanism for how a post-Brexit public goods scheme should work for farming and rural businesses as well as delivering for the environment and society.
The substantial new report explains how a Land Management Contract should be designed and delivered in England as part of a new national agricultural policy once UK farming transitions away from the current system of direct payment. The CLA’s proposed Land Management Contract is a commercial business proposition, with the farmer entering a contract to provide clearly defined public benefits in return for guaranteed payments over the long term.
The paper emphasises that while a new public goods scheme delivered through Land Management Contracts presents significant opportunities for environmental improvement, these benefits will only be delivered if the new scheme attracts farmers and land managers by making good business sense. This will require the Government to commit to transferring, over time, at least the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) spend into the new public goods scheme, to ensure sufficient incentive. In England this current spend under the CAP is £2.2bn per year.
CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “The vision of a new food, farming and environment policy where food production and environmental improvement go hand in hand is the right one. For a long time the CLA has advocated a policy that incentivises land managers to deliver public goods like creating new habitats for wildlife, action to improve soil quality and delivering high standards of animal welfare. This policy will succeed if it sits alongside a clear plan for supporting profitable food production, through a transition period and for the long term.
“There is now clear political will to support this approach, but it is crucial that this milestone towards a sustainable future for the countryside is thoughtfully designed and well delivered. If the scheme does not make good business sense, and is not designed to work alongside profitable food production, the opportunity will be lost.
“This means sufficient investment into the scheme, whilst avoiding unnecessary complexities and burdensome red tape. It also means long term guaranteed payments so that farm businesses can have the certainty that is crucial in planning for a resilient future. Our new paper sets out how a public goods scheme should be designed and delivered as an important part of the Government's objective set out in Health and Harmony, of a sustainable and profitable farming industry delivering environmental enhancement.
The CLA’s report also highlights that a new public goods scheme will only work if the post-Brexit agricultural policy also actively supports and assists farmers in the drive for more profitable food production, while allowing greater farm business diversification.
Read the CLA’s Land Management Contract: Design and Deliver here