Post Brexit, the British have an opportunity to rethink their own farm policy, and the Boris Johnson government has come up with a very interesting approach:
At the bill’s core is a shift away from direct payments to farmers based upon the amount of agricultural land they manage. This was a feature of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) that was heavily criticised as it pushed up land prices, creating an entry barrier for younger farmers, and benefited large landowners disproportionately. It also meant the farming of unproductive land that otherwise might have been turned into wildlife habitat.Beats me if this will work. I'm no expert on British farming, and with these things small details can end up having huge consequences down the line. But it sounds worth trying, and honestly it would be hard to come up with something worse than the CAP.
Instead, landowners will in future be paid to produce “public goods”. These are things that can benefit everyone but bring no financial reward to those who produce them, like clean air and water.
Over the next seven years, farmers will move from the CAP regulations to a new system of environmental land management contracts. These will detail the terms and conditions under which farmers and land managers will receive funding. Subsidies are expected to be paid out from taxpayer funds at the same rate as the EU – about £3bn a year – to enable landowners to deliver the public goods set out in the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and the Clean Growth Strategy. . . .
One of the big priorities of the bill is soil. Erosion rates from ploughed fields are between 10 and 100 times greater than rates of soil formation. As a result, the UK faces a crisis of food security within our lifetimes. The government will reward farmers who protect and improve soil quality with measures such as crop rotation, and give ministers new powers to regulate fertiliser use and organic farming.