THE start of 2021 has seen many of our food producers contending with regulatory disruption of live exports. In particular, the situation for our pig industry in Yorkshire is of grave concern.

There have been severe gaps in production lines which has created many weeks’ backlog. This has meant pig producers left with pigs too large to meet contractual specifications and with continuing feed costs, unless and until the animals can be marketed.

Many producers are wondering why there is not more rapid action to protect their trade and industry. The answer lies in the tensions evident between the Government’s broader wish to ensure its freedom to make trade agreements is as unfettered as possible and the agreement of any detailed amendments to the Trade Bill and Environment Bill which help protect and facilitate agricultural exports. We have to hope that a sensible balance can be struck quickly so that food producers can plan ahead with confidence.

Most will have read the brochure ‘Farming is Changing’ published by Defra in October of 2020 as it lays out their intentions for farming going forward to 2027 and beyond. Its main points are a phasing out of the current BPS Scheme by 2024, with payments continuing to 2027 on reducing scale.

There will be some variation and relaxation of restrictions and penalties, such as those relating to greening rules or cross-compliance. However, be warned that these variations only apply to those claiming BPS in 2021 and Country Stewardship Agreements starting on or after 1st February 2021. Do check with your Land Agents or other professional advisers if in doubt, as some schemes will not fall within the variations of the rules.

Going forward, there is the lump sum exit scheme which will be important to both retiring and new entrants in the industry and which is stirring considerable interest particularly in the tenanted farming sector. As part of the new ELMS mentioned earlier, there are a raft of programmes including the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery (including Rewilding Schemes). Countryside Stewardship continues to 2024 (though note last applications 2023). Catchment Sensitive Farming, Farmers in Protected Landscapes, Tree and Woodland Schemes are all programmes upon which we await more information from Defra In coming months and, as ever, the devil will be in the detail.

Victoria Prentis in the forward states “this is an exciting time for English farming”; perhaps, at the moment, a little too exciting for some sectors! Some action to stabilize trade regulations is urgently needed, not additional red tape.

On a final, more positive note, you may have seen our recent advertisements in the Gazette announcing the opening of our office in Malton. Even in these times of necessary Covid-19 related restrictions, our new base gives us the opportunity to support our agricultural clients in the Ryedale area even more effectively. Call us on 01653 919 998 and we will be happy to assist or go to