Older farmers in England will be paid to retire under a government scheme aimed at attracting new, younger, entrants into the industry.
The plans, which are still subject to consultation, are part of a post-Brexit shift to a subsidy system and an overhaul of farm grants to encourage farmers to protect the environment.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said farmers would receive the payments if they rent out, sell or give away land they own, or if they surrender a tenancy. He told a conference earlier this year that some older farmers were “standing in the way of change.” He wants them to move on in the hope that younger farmers may be more open to new “green” methods.
The average farmer who leaves agriculture can expect a payment of around £50,000 while payments for farmers with more land will be capped at £100,000.
The money being offered to farmers would otherwise have been paid out annually as a ‘basic payment’ under the EU-style system and be based on land value.
“The introduction of delinked payments should also help to further speed up restructuring of the farming industry,” said the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, according to the Financial Times.
As payments would no longer be based on land area, farmers would have more freedom with some able to downsize or leave farming altogether. The department said this could create further opportunities for businesses and new entrants to the agriculture industry.
The department’s own survey found that 12 per cent of farmers wanted to leave within five years, but there are some concerns about the success of the scheme.
“Based on similar schemes in Ireland and Australia, they are not popular with farmers due to their insufficiency in supporting farmers to leave the sector,” the Landworkers’ Alliance, a group of smaller farmers, told the Financial Times.