22 April 1999
Early retirement back on the agenda
By FWi staff
A MAJOR consultation to be launched today (Thursday) by the government will re-float plans for an early retirement scheme for farmers, Farmers Weekly has learned.
The early retirement proposals will be included in the governments consultation on procedures for implementing European Rural Development Regulations in England.
A separate consultation paper issued at the same time will detail new support arrangements for hill farmers, including a move towards environmental payments.
The two consultation papers will pave the way for major reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy agreed in principle by the European Council last month.
The aim is to bring agricultural and rural policy closer together and will encourage farmers to extend their role as environmental managers.
The idea of introducing an early retirement scheme for farmers was widely considered last year.
But it was postponed after the government decided that European rules would be “a major bar to uniform and effective uptake”.
Agriculture Minister Nick Brown remains in favour of providing hard-pressed livestock farmers with a dignified way of leaving the industry.
“I am very keen on seeing an early retirement scheme introduced,” he told Farmers Weekly.
“Although there is no money earmarked for such a scheme, I want to consult on the idea before advancing it within government.”
The timescale for drawing up the plans is very tight, and any proposals resulting from the consultation must be submitted to the European Commission by November.