Brexit transition fund to help UK farmers

By BLOOMBERG

LONDON • The UK government will extend its Brexit transition regime to help farmers cope with the loss of European Union (EU) subsidies when the country leaves the bloc in 2019 in a move that will add billions of pounds to the cost of the split.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove was scheduled yesterday to give a speech outlining his plan to overhaul the way state funds are spent on farming once Britain withdraws from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), his office said.

The UK’s governing Conservative Party promised last year to match the CAP rate of annual payments worth £3 billion (RM16.29 billion) to farms for three years after Brexit — until 2022.

Yesterday, Gove will signal he’s extending these grants until 2024, effectively giving farmers a five-year cushion to soften the impact of Brexit.

“I want to give farmers and land managers time and the tools to adapt to the future, so we avoid a precipitate cliff edge but also prepare properly for the changes which are coming,” Gove would tell a farming conference in Oxford, England.

“I want to develop a new method of providing financial support for farmers which moves away from subsidies for inefficiency to public money for public goods.”

Gove’s announcement comes at a critical time in the UK’s preparations for Brexit.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s government will begin negotiating the terms of a two-year transitional phase with the EU later this month, a plan she hopes will ease the adjustment process for businesses.

Gove’s extra help for farmers could lead other sectors to step-up their own demands for a longer transition period.

The minister, who is 50, is one of the most prominent Brexit backers in May’s Cabinet.

With Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, he led the Vote Leave campaign in the UK’s 2016 referendum on EU membership.

In his speech at the Oxford Farming Conference, he will set out his aim for a new regime of state subsidies that will replace the CAP over time, according to extracts released in advance by his office.

Gove wants to reward farmers who protect wildlife habitats, open their land to the public, plant woodlands and safeguard the landscape.