The future for food, farming and our environment has been the subject of much discussion recently, and many farmers and landowners are wondering what a ‘Green Brexit’ might look like. Some of you may be more familiar with its working title of ‘Health and Harmony’ – the name given to the Government’s latest consultation paper on how it proposes to reform current agricultural policy. The paper has been split into 2 main objectives: 1. To encourage our farmers to invest, increase standards and improve self-reliance, and 2. To reward those farmers and landowners for delivering environmental goods which benefit everyone However, the Government has stated that nothing will change until 2020, which means the Basic Payment scheme will remain the same for now. So far, after 2020, there is no agreed timetable on whether the UK will remain within the Common Agricultural Policy with the EU. “These are uncertain times for our agricultural communities,” said Afford Bond director Lindsay Beeston: “with the Countryside Stewardship Scheme also seeing changes, our farmers and landowners will need expert financial and tax advice on the best ways to futureproof their agricultural businesses”. The Government’s intention is to continue to simplify the Scheme with regards to participation and the application for inclusion process. And at the time of writing, it appears that the Scheme will continue until it is replaced by a new environmental land management programme. Long term, the Government intends to move farming away from the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) and on to the new scheme and has proposed two ways of doing this: 1. Phase out the Basic Payment Scheme, via: (a) Tiered reductions – based on different levels of payment (b) A basic cap on payments to those receiving over a set amount (yet to be determined) (c) A variation of (a) and (b) above 2. Introduce a new model based on public money for public goods, likely to commence in 2020 Whatever happens, it is now clear that there will be changes to farming levels of income. It is vital that our farmers and landowners seek professional accounting advice and educate themselves on how these changes are likely to affect their overall financial position. For an informal chat, please don’t hesitate to contact Lindsay Beeston, our expert agricultural director at Afford Bond Chartered Accountants. Afford Bond are Cheshire’s leading Chartered Accountants and tax experts with offices in Nantwich, Wilmslow and Chester – our key competences are accounts, audit, taxation, payroll and corporate finance and we see constant overlap in the delivery of these services demonstrating the need for qualified and experienced advisors.
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