Life after BPS

Direct payments as part of the basic payment scheme (BPS) are set to phase out from this year. First year reductions are to be felt most by the largest recipients, though direct payments have played a considerable role for many farm businesses.

According to Defra farm accounts data, BPS reliance has been lessening over the past 5 years. This is down to increasing farm business income (FBI) rather than reduced payments. Based on Defra’s total FBI calculations, last year (2019/20) total FBI for cereals farms averaged £62.8K, of which direct payments accounted for 61% (£38.1K). In 2015/16, average FBI for cereals farms totalled £35.5K, of which direct payments accounted for 87% (£30.9K). In fact, BPS received increased over the past 5 years by £7.2K.

Last year, the return on agriculture activities for cereal farms stood at £800/farm, according to Defra. This dropped from £10.2K in 2018/19, caused by significantly increased variable and fixed costs.

Understanding costs is increasingly important for arable farms looking ahead. With spring crop drilling to start soon, gross margins are set to feel a further squeeze with approaching rises in red diesel costs. Fertiliser cost is also set to be high this year, rising with the tight global supply and demand of grains.

Future funding – where will it be?

As we know, the government are calling for a move towards delivering public goods and this is the main priority for funding in the upcoming years.

The Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs) is the main tool in implementing this new strategy. There are 3 outcomes to the ELMS scheme: Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery. Though, unlike direct payments, these schemes are designed to deliver outcomes which will be a crucial consideration for calculating risk versus reward.

There are many opportunities going forward for arable businesses, and understanding where your focus is and what you want to achieve will be the first stop to deciding your next step. Click here to listen to a Farmers Weekly and AHDB webinar on the transition from BPS to ELMS.

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AHDB winding down horticulture and potatoes operations as Ministerial decision awaited

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AHDB has announced yesterday it is winding down significant activities on behalf of the horticulture and potatoes sectors.

While still awaiting a decision on the future by Ministers in England, Scotland and Wales, AHDB wants to reassure levy payers their views have been heard following recent ballots in the two sectors.

AHDB is now stopping programmes of work that could be restarted in the future by grower associations, individual growers or the supply chain. This work includes for example, export market access and promotional international trade event work, consumer marketing campaigns and market pricing and insight information. AHDB will continue to deliver limited emergency work on pests and diseases, including the Extension of Authorisation for Minor Use (EAMU)’s and some...