How will new Agricultural Bill impact on the region? Legal expert explains

By Wilkin Chapman LLP | Posted: 13 Sep 2018

Tackling bureaucracy and fuller details about post-Brexit payments are two of the major proposals in today’s new Agricultural Bill, according to a regional agriculture legal expert.

Partner and Head of Agriculture at Wilkin Chapman solicitors, Catherine Harris has close links to the sector across Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire and has been watching the outcome of the Bill’s contents very closely. It received its first reading in Parliament this week when it was presented by Defra Secretary Michael Gove.

Catherine has played a key role in supporting and advising the sector across the region and has a broad insight into the issues that affect landowners and farmers – both now and in the future.

Catherine comments:

“The Bill is a clear step towards a free market system; the government’s goal is a move away from area based payments to one where farmers are paid for the delivery of environmental public goods.  The transition provisions are there to ease the process and include initiatives such as de-linking and measures to secure transparency and fairness in agri supply chains.” 

Of particular interest are the de-linking provisions which provide potential for the payment of a lump sum separate from the area based system.  A potentially really beneficial opportunity to enable business to restructure or address the thorny issue of succession.  At last, this could be a really positive step towards helping farming families pass business down to the next generation. 

Other areas of interest for Catherine included a commitment to cutting through and simplifying some of the current red-tape that exists, including a removal of the 3-crop rule. Introduced in 2015, the rule stipulates that farmers with more than 30-hectares must grow three crops if they are claiming support under the EU basic payment scheme.

 “My reaction is that the Bill is a positive step forward towards a free market and encouraging succession planning diversification and innovation.  However, the devil will be in the detail and we all need to keep a watchful eye on the regulations which are yet to be drafted,” added Catherine.

If you require any legal advice in relation to agriculture law or the new Bill, you can speak to an agriculture legal specialist at www.wilkinchapman.co.uk.

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