For this month’s column, JENNI BARTRAM, consultant solicitor at Harrowells Solicitors, looks ahead to 2021

AS I write this column, we still anxiously await a deal or no deal Brexit which, if a deal is achievable, is going right down to the wire. For the farming business, some certainty would be appreciated as heavy tariffs on our products and hold up on exports will be very costly to the industry.

The EU is our largest trading partner and agricultural exports and imports are of such value to both sides that an agreement is vital.

The knock-on effect on shops and supermarkets and the general public would also be damaging to an economy already suffering from the continuing effects of Covid-19.

In respect of our exported lamb roughly 90 per cent goes to the EU. If no deal is made then tariffs about 50 per cent could be levied on that exported lamb, creating a glut on the home market and a drop in price that would be eye-watering. Add in the planned 2021 drop in the Basic Payments Scheme, on a sliding scale according to receipts and farmers could be forgiven for feeling rather concerned.

DEFRA is in discussion with the interested parties and there is provision for intervention in the new Agriculture Act, where a crisis occurs in any sector although the “what and when” is awaited.

On a more positive topic the new stewardship schemes are commencing which hopefully will follow through to the new Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS) from 2024 onwards.

The new Environmental Bill is on its way through Parliament and has some interesting provisions in relation to covenants on land presumably to link in with intended new environmental schemes, about which we will say more in the new year.

The industry is also looking hard across all sectors at new technologies, alternative energy production and storage, methods of land use, crop and animal growth and development.

Redundant farm buildings also

continue to add possible diversification schemes to farm businesses at a time when part of the population have discovered the pleasures of working from rural locations with an easier commute, provided, of course, the broadband links are good.

Leisure locations whilst damaged by Covid-19 this year will spring back into their own in the next year to 18 months.

Farming has made great advances over the last 100 years and will continue to do so in the next and at the core is that it provides the nation with a large percentage of its food so on that note may I wish you and yours a Happy Christmas and New Year.

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