Consultant predicts steep falls in BPS post-Brexit

Doubts have been raised about the life expectancy of the direct payment regime, with the last BPS payments at current levels set to be made in 2019.

Many farmers had assumed their direct payment would be assured until 2020, after the government’s announcement in August that it would guarantee Pillar 1 funding until the end of the Multiannual Financial Framework [MFF] in 2020. 

See also: Relief as chancellor promises to maintain farm support

However, Richard King, head of research at consultant Andersons, said the final year of the MFF was the 2019 payment year, while carefully worded government statements suggested payments would only be guaranteed “up to 2020”.

“It’s looking increasingly likely that funding will only cover the BPS payments up to 2019,” Mr King told a Brexit seminar at Cirencester this week.

He also warned that after that date, support payments would fall rapidly. English and Welsh farm support payments might drop to 50% of current levels by 2025, Mr King suggested, while Scottish support might drop to 40% of today’s levels. 

This dramatic fall in farm support was not certain, but was based on a number of factors during an in-depth analysis by Andersons. It included an examination of Defra and Treasury attitudes over the past decade, voting history of key cabinet members and current spending priorities.

Policy possibilities

Mr King made the following predictions about a future domestic farm policy:

  • England – likely to include an element of funding for hill farming and environmental schemes.
  • Scotland – bigger focus on production-based support and promoting the Scottish food and drink brand.
  • Wales – policy more focused on improving competitiveness, but no specific hill farming support and a lesser role for Glastir.