According to an annual survey, short and mid-term business confidence amongst farmers remains low for the third year running, with one of the key concerns being the phasing out of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).
The Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme, which will reward farmers and land managers with public money for ‘public goods’ such as better air and water quality, will replace the BPS. However, farmers are concerned about the gap between the BPS and ELM.
The survey, carried out by the National Farmers Union (NFU), showed that 78 per cent of the farmers believe scrapping the BPS will harm their business.
Additionally, the survey shows that 59 per cent of respondents are concerned about a rise in input prices and 53 per cent about changes to regulation and legislation. Whereas 44 per cent of farmers and growers reveal their concerns surround the impact of Covid-19, 73 per cent of which are in horticulture businesses.
As an NFU spokeswoman pointed out, confidence is critical for all businesses as it influences production, investment and growth intentions. Plus, it has a wider impact on farming’s economic contribution as well as food production.
She added that it is hardly surprising that the phasing out of the BPS is the top concern highlighted in the survey, as farmers will start seeing payment rates being reduced this year, without any new schemes to replace this income.
Also, there is no clarity around the kind of standards involved in these future schemes, making it very difficult for farm businesses to plan for the future.