Power to provide for phasing out direct payments and delinked payments

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 1st November 2018.

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Photo of Sandy Martin Sandy Martin Shadow Minister (Waste and Recycling) 4:00 pm, 1st November 2018

I do not particularly want to address the amendments or the whole de-linking scheme in detail, but we need to bear in mind one or two basic principles. Obviously, if we support the movement to payment for public goods, and a tricky transition, people who have farm businesses that will be involved in that transition need to understand what will happen to them before they get there.

We do not want large numbers of farmers to move out of the business involuntarily. Subsection (7) provides the opportunity for support for somebody who has voluntarily decided to leave the business. However, there is a problem with small farmers in particular, who might have extremely delicate finances. They need to know before they get to the year in which they might find themselves unable to continue financially—indeed, they would need to know three or four years before—whether they are going to get there. They need to know that before deciding whether to take the lump sum payments under subsection (7). If they do not know whether they will be financially viable under the new payments regime more than three years before, that might become a fatal position for them. They might take the payment and go anyway, even though it might turn out that they would have been better off and happier continuing to farm under the new payment for public goods system, rather than the current system.