No cut to subsidy budget in 2020, Treasury confirms

The total budget for area-based subsidies will be the same in 2020 as it was this year, the Treasury has confirmed today.

Next year’s £2.8bn support cheque will be the first payment funded in full by UK taxpayers as it will be made after the UK has left the Common Agricultural Policy.

The confirmation had been widely expected after the Conservatives made an election pledge to match the current annual budget for agriculture for every year of their parliamentary term.

See also: General election: What Tory win means for farming

The exact payment rate a hectare would be decided later in the year by Defra and the devolved administrations, a Treasury spokesman said.

Each part of the UK will set its own level of Direct Payments for 2020 under existing EU rules which enable up to 15% of the Direct Payments budget to be used for rural development

Defra secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Outside the EU we will have a simpler, fairer funding system – one that rewards farmers for enhancing our environment and safeguarding our high animal welfare standards.

“We are committed to making sure our rural communities feel the benefits of Brexit and will ensure our farmers get a better deal.”

Phasing out direct payments to deliver them by other means is not expected to begin until 2021 in England, and will require the passing of the delayed Agriculture Bill.

The Welsh government has said it will not begin phasing out payments until 2022.

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said: “Government commitment to continue to fund direct payments when we leave the EU is welcome.

“When we meet ministers and MPs at Westminster early in the New Year, we will seek further clarity on this announcement and press for a long-term funding commitment to farming. We will also look for further measures that will help farmers secure a fairer share of returns from the supply chain.”

Ulster Farmers Union president Ivor Ferguson said: “It is essential Northern Ireland’s share of UK funding is maintained, and that we have the ability to regionalise agricultural policy.

“Farming in Northern Ireland is very different to farming in the south of England and regionalisation will ensure that the delivery of this funding best suits the differing needs and structure of our industry here.”