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Govt recklessly gambling on farmers retirement

June 24, 2021 9:27 PM
By Lib Dems

Tim FarronThe Conservatives have proposed a retirement scheme to support farmers who wish to leave the industry, freeing up land for new entrants. However, no analysis has been done on the number expected to take up the scheme, nor how many new entrants will replace them.

Questions from the Liberal Democrats have revealed that the Government only "think" that new workers will enter the industry.

Liberal Democrats Spokesperson for Rural Affairs, Tim Farron MP, said:

"This news is deeply concerning. The farming industry has already been battered by the Conservative's mishandling of Brexit, the failure to protect animal welfare standards and the cuts to support payments without the replacement even being ready.

"Now the Government is encouraging people to leave the industry, with no idea who will replace them. This risks damaging our countryside irrevocably, with experienced land managers who have spent their lives caring for animals and the environment leaving the industry because the Conservatives are making it more and more difficult to do their job.

"Liberal Democrats back British farmers. The Conservatives must start listening to them. If they don't, we will lose the very people who are needed to reverse the climate and nature crisis we are facing."

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Questions put to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are as follows:

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Farmers: Retirement

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate the Government has made of the number of farmers expected to retire under the Government's proposed exit scheme.

Asked 26 May 2021

A: Our proposed lump sum exit scheme will provide support for farmers in England who wish to exit the industry. By doing so, this will free up land for new entrants and those farmers who wish to expand.

In 2018, we undertook a survey of around 1,000 farmers as part of our planning for the Agriculture Act. 6% of those surveyed said they wanted to leave farming but felt they were not able to do so at that time. Financial reasons were given as the main barrier.

There will be a range of factors which will affect individual farmers' decisions about whether they wish to take the lump sum and exit farming. The consultation will be used to gather further evidence about likely uptake.

Our consultation can be found here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/agricultural-policy/lump-sum-and-delinked-payments-england/. This consultation is open until 11 August 2021.

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Farmers: Retirement

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the proportion of retiring farmers who will be replaced by new entrants.

Asked 26 May 2021

A: The Government is currently carrying out a consultation on a proposed lump sum exit scheme for farmers in England (https://consult.defra.gov.uk/agricultural-policy/lump-sum-and-delinked-payments-england/). This consultation is open until 11 August 2021.

We think that, by helping those farmers who wish to retire or leave the industry to do so, this scheme will free up land for both new entrants and expanding farmers. Our consultation will be used to gather evidence of how the scheme could benefit both groups of farmers.