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Farming leaders welcome £3bn pledge to maintain subsidy payments

PUBLISHED: 14:20 31 December 2019 | UPDATED: 14:20 31 December 2019

The government has pledged almost £3bn to maintain direct payment farm support at the same level in 2020. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The government has pledged almost £3bn to maintain direct payment farm support at the same level in 2020. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Farming groups have welcomed a government funding pledge of almost £3bn which will keep subsidy support at the same level in 2020 as Britain leaves the EU.

Brexit will take the UK out of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which currently distributes "direct payment" subsidies based on the amount of land farmed. This is set to be phased out and eventually replaced by a new domestic system which will instead reward farmers for "public goods" such as environmental work or enhancing animal welfare.

In the meantime, chancellor Sajid Javid said farmers can "enter the New Year with confidence" after confirming the £2.852bn funding which will allow direct payments for 2020 to continue at the same level as 2019, and supplement the remaining EU funding that farmers will receive for development projects until 2023 at the latest.

Nick von Westenholz, director of EU exit for the National Farmers' Union (NFU) said: "We're pleased to see this confirmation of the Conservative manifesto commitment to maintain current levels of support, which will provide a degree of certainty and stability for farmers as we enter the critical stage of negotiating our future trading relationships with the EU and other countries in the coming year.

"To ensure a positive outlook for UK farming after we leave the EU the government will need to couple this financial guarantee of support for our industry with a clear-cut commitment that domestic producers will not be unfairly undermined by imports from overseas produced to standards that would be illegal here.

"We are still waiting for the introduction of a council on trade and standards that can advise ministers on our future trade policy and scrutinise the forthcoming negotiations to ensure our high farming standards are not undermined by substandard imports.

"We look forward to working with the government in the months ahead, both in designing and implementing a future agricultural policy that will support sustainable food production in the UK, but also in leading the world in pursuing a progressive and sustainable trade policy that has our high environmental and welfare standards at is heart."

The government says it will guarantee the current annual budget to farmers in every year of the current parliament.


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