English farmers could be set to receive up to £100,000 to leave the industry under proposals outlined in a consultation just published by Defra.
The scheme is designed to help new entrants gain a foothold in the industry and support farmers who would like to retire but have found it difficult to do so for financial reasons.
The consultation suggests the average farmer would receive around £50,000, based on the the value of Basic Payment Scheme payments and the scheme would be capped at £100,000.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “We need to address the twin challenges of helping new entrants fulfil their dream and gain access to land, while also helping an older generation retire with dignity.
“Our exit scheme will offer farmers who want to exit the industry all of the area payments they would likely have received until the end of the transition period in a single lump sum. It gives them a real incentive to confront what can often be a difficult decision and will help them clear bills and settle debts. ”
The Scottish Government’s plans for a post-Brexit agricultural policy have yet to be revealed, although the appointment of Mairi Gougeon as the new Rural Affairs secretary could kick-start the process.
Responding to the Defra consultation, NFU Scotland’s director of policy, Johnnie Hall, said the union’s ambition had always been to encourage new blood into the industry.
He said the Scottish Land Matching Service, which forms part of an exit strategy for farmers wishing to take a gradual or complete step back from farming, had been a success, and said NFUS had called on the Scottish Government to look at other ways to supporting those looking to leave the industry.
He added: “Planning relaxations that allow retirement homes to be built on farms; greater access to affordable rural housing, support for retraining, encouraging succession planning in family businesses – all these could make the transition for those leaving farming a lot easier.”
The consultation will be open for 12 weeks and closes on July 6.