The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has written to 200 rural MPs warning that the Government is not ready to begin the transition away from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

The organisation, which represents 30,000 landowners across England and Wales, first argued for a ‘public money for public goods’ scheme over ten years ago, but warns transitioning from the old system to the new is fraught with dangers, with many farmers fearing they could be put out of business if the transition is handled badly.

The bulk of future investment will be through the new Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMS), but it will not be fully available to farmers for four years. Meanwhile, cuts to the old scheme will begin in January 2021.

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By the time ELMS is fully available, many family farms face losing 50 per cent of the financial support they have previously received. Given even large farming enterprise operates on wafer thin margins, it seems clear many businesses will be put at risk.

Mark Bridgeman, President of the CLA, said: “The Government’s aims of a more sustainable farming sector are noble; we support them fully.

“At a time of dramatic change, globally and domestically, this latest threat to farming risks plunging the sector into a new and entirely unnecessary crisis. The farming industry has encouraged the Government to build a bridge between the old and the new schemes and to phase the change carefully. To their credit, Ministers listened, but information on this bridging mechanism is very scarce.

“We also understand the Government’s desire to make a clean break from European policy, but in their haste to remove the old system they risk driving out of business the very people who will deliver the environmental benefits they – and the public – wish for.”