The negotiations between the EU and Great Britain are marked by suspicion that the British could gain unjustified advantages by dumping wages and protecting the environment. A draft of agricultural policy now shows that the assumptions are not correct on every point.
After leaving the EU, Great Britain wants to link subsidies for farmers more closely to climate protection and other innovative concepts. “We want farmers to get public money to make their farms more productive and sustainable, while they should also improve the environment, animal welfare and climate protection on their land,” said Environment Minister George Eustice in a statement on Monday.
Direct payments, which are measured on the basis of the size of the respective agricultural area, as has been customary in the EU so far, are to be halved in the UK by 2024 and phased out completely by 2028. The money saved – around £ 900 million according to calculations – will flow into a new funding system called “Environmental Land Management”. The aim is to support farmers who use sustainable technologies, create new habitats for animals and plants, or reforest. Grants for new technologies, such as agricultural robots or water storage tanks, are also to be approved through an agricultural investment fund.
Mark Bridgeman, head of the Country Land and Business Association, which represents some 30,000 UK farms, welcomed the change but said, “Many farmers will find it difficult to cope with the drastic cuts in direct payments. The average farm will initially get more than 50 percent less before the new programs will be fully available in 2024. ”
The EU also wants to link its multi-billion dollar agricultural subsidies to services in environmental, climate and animal protection. From the point of view of environmental associations, however, all resolutions so far fall far too short in terms of achieving climate goals and stopping species extinction.