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Home/Farmers could be offered up to £100,000 to retire
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Farmers could be offered up to £100,000 to retire

The scheme is part of a range of measures which have gone out for a consultation this week which include an overhaul of grants given to farmers

Farmers could be set to be offered up to £100,000 to retire as in what is thought to be a part of government plans to usher in a new breed of more environmentally-friendly land managers.

The scheme is part of a range of measures which have gone out for a 12-week consultation this week which include an overhaul of grants given to farmers.

Known as the 'basic payment lump sum exit scheme', it has long been discussed as an opportunity to bring in younger people into the industry who are more open to the ideas of sustainable farming.

Payments are believed to start at £50,000 and will be capped at £100,000. They will be introduced from next year - dependant on the outcome of the consultation now taking place.

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, he said.

By renting out their farm or surrendering their tenancy, those exiting the industry will create important opportunities for the next generation of farmers and later this year we will be saying more about our plans to work with county farm estates and other land owners to ensure that we nurture the right conditions for new enterprises to flourish, he said.

The Tenants Farmers Association's chief executive, George Dunn, said: The lump sum scheme was never going to provide the complete solution for those looking to retire from agriculture.

However, as part of a portfolio, which might include a surrender payment from a landlord for a secure tenancy, sale of livestock and equipment and other pension provision, it could be a very useful catalyst. However, we will need to await the detailed rules before being able to fully advise our members, Dunn said.

According to a report from Defra in 2017, a third of tenancy holder farmers in the UK were over 65 - with just 3% below 35.

The move to change the grants is a result of Brexit and the shift away from the EU grants previously paid.

Defra says it follows last year’s announcement of the Agricultural Transition Plan - which aims to reward farmers and land managers for sustainable farming practices, which will see the introduction of a new, fairer system, co-designed with industry that is tailored in the interests of English farmers.

It adds: The proposals within the consultation seek to offer a fairer system for farmers, encouraging generational change by providing more flexibility for new entrants to start up their farm businesses and supporting those who are ready to leave the sector to do so on their own terms.