For members farming in England, cuts to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) started in 2021. While the cuts in the first year were relatively small for most, they will increase each year, with a minimum 50% cut in payments by 2024. BPS payments will cease completely after 2027. Farming businesses need to start making plans now for how they are going to manage this change. Understanding current business performance and what the impact of BPS cuts will have is a good starting point.
In October, Defra launched the third and final round of the Future Farming Resilience Fund - a government-funded advice scheme to help farming businesses in receipt of BPS plan during the early stages of the agricultural transition. The £32m scheme will run until March 2025 and will provide free support and business advice to 32,000 farm businesses in receipt of BPS.
The advice and support will be provided by 17 specialist organisations, each with their own expertise and offer of support. Farm businesses are free to select the organisation most suitable for their needs. Some providers are supporting specific regions and sectors, while others have designed a more general offer. Each of the providers has committed to support a fixed amount of advisory input on a first-come, first-served basis. Those interested should therefore contact their chosen provider as soon as possible.
What is on offer
The overarching aim of the support fund is to help BPS recipients build an understanding of the impact that reduced direct payments will have on their businesses. The providers are offering a wide range of services, including bespoke farm business analysis with recommendations for improvements and follow-up visits, group discussions, skills workshops and carbon and environmental audits. Direct, one-to-one support can only be obtained from one provider, though applicants can attend introductory meetings and webinars to help them select a provider. Cross-border farms in Wales and Scotland are eligible to take part in this phase as long as they have some land in England. Those that accessed support under a previous round of the scheme remain eligible and are free to switch provider if they wish.
Start planning now
The free advisory services provided by the Future Farming Resilience Fund will help farmers and landowners navigate the early stages of the agricultural transition and identify key actions to build a resilient business.
The CLA strongly recommends that members take up the offer for support under this scheme. The advice is free and from established professionals who will help members prepare for the changes ahead and highlight ways to adapt. We recommend that members start by reviewing the list of providers and the services they are offering before deciding which offer looks to be the best fit for their business. Members should consider speaking to the providers directly to find out more about their offer and should act promptly or risk being faced with a more limited list of providers.