Earlier this year, DEFRA announced it was planning to introduce a lump sum retirement scheme for farmers in England, which was due to open for applications next spring.
The scheme applies to farmers who have claimed under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) since 2015 or before, with the rule relaxed for those who had inherited land or succeeded to a tenancy since 2015. Those applying would be able to receive a lump sum in place of any further BPS or other direct payments from 2022.
The timetable for the scheme was as follows:
Whilst there was a lot of detail in the documents issued in May 2021, there were also some major gaps:
Our view at the time was that the amounts being offered - 2.35 times the historic amount of BPS receipts - while welcome, was unlikely to be enough to make many farmers apply for the lump sum. Farmers who had already made the decision to retire were the most likely applicants.
We are now past the end of Autumn, and no further details have been announced. Strutt and Parker, a national firm of land agents, has reported that the Government response has been delayed but that it was still intending to open the scheme in 2022.
This is an unsatisfactory state of affairs, as the cessation of a farming business is something that needs careful planning many months in advance. Sales of farms and dispersal sales of livestock are usually undertaken over the Summer months. All of this leaves little time to make decisions if the scheme rules are not published until early 2022.