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Post-Brexit Agriculture and Grant Funding Options (England)
Following on from my last blog on the website on 9th December 2016 there have been a number of developments regarding Brexit and how the agricultural industry will move forward.
Last summer, uncertainty in the financial markets following Brexit meant that sterling was devalued by over 20%. All funding under Pillars 1 and 2 was suspended and decisions on grant applications were delayed with no funding approved until September.
Clarity did follow and we know that Pillar 1 funding (direct payments) will be committed to until the end of the EU budget period 2020. Funding for multi-year agri-environment schemes will also be funded across the lifetime of their agreement, with Pillar 2 one-off grants also continuing. However, the cut-off point has not been announced, whether it is the 31st December 2018 or 31st March 2019 remains to be seen. Funding for rural grants continues to come from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) or RDPs for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and the European Structural and Investment Funds.
Currently EU funds are match-funded by the UK Government; however, it is not understood what will happen post-Brexit with regards to a rural development programme. My opinion is that there will be a new scheme put in place but that the current situation may continue until this is decided i.e. we could see a 5 year transitional period between 2020 to 2025.
There are a few options available; do nothing and retain the existing budget, increase the rate of modulation from Pillar 1 to 2 (can’t do this until we leave EU) or cut the Pillar 1 budget and redirect a percentage of funds to Pillar 2. As with anything of this nature it is very political and there will be much debate about the future of agricultural support within the UK, particularly now we are leaving the EU. As new developments occur we will endeavour to keep you updated.
Food production and agriculture are vital to the UK economy. Food is the UK’s biggest manufacturing sector with the agri-food sector contributing £109 billion to the economy every year, supported by an agriculture and fishing base worth around £11 billion. It is hoped that the Government will see how important this industry is to the wider economy, and certainly it is well within our power to put forward strong arguments for the viability and continued support of specific sectors.
Until we get two years down the line however, there are plenty of good opportunities to be aware of and apply for. Now is the time to secure the sustainability of your business before we get to the Brexit cliff-edge, and without knowing what is beyond the horizon.
Below is a summary of the current schemes in place:
- Basic Payment Scheme – available for application until 2020, deadline this year mid May 2017
- Countryside Stewardship – Hedgerows & Boundaries grant – open now, deadline end April 2017
- Countryside Stewardship – Mid Tier & Higher Tier grant – open now, deadline end September 2017
- LEADER grants – open now and across 2017-18, deadline specific to Local Action Groups – Farming, Enterprise, Tourism, Forestry, Culture & Heritage themes
- Growth Programme grants – open now, rolling deadline until end January 2018 – Business Development, Food Processing, Rural Tourism themes
- Simon Haley, Rural Business Adviser, Reading Agricultural Consultants
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