Fieldwise ViewPoint - Mike Hutchinson

Health and Harmony

2018 is a milestone year for Hutchinsons, marking eight decades of service to UK agriculture.

In the recently published consultation on the future of UK farming, it is clear that DEFRA would like to see our agricultural industry move away from the principle of CAP support, despite successive reforms, in favour of payments targeted towards areas such as the environment, animal welfare and business investment, to drive diversified farm incomes and business efficiencies.

DEFRA plans to administer payments in 2019 in mainly the same way as now, with some potential simplifications – this both for BPS and rural development programme schemes such as Countryside Stewardship. However, once Defra is “free of the CAP” as they put it, reductions to direct payments will commence.

The current policy will be replaced by one underpinned by ‘public money for public goods’. What could this mean for our industry?

  • Environmental enhancement and protection
  • Better animal and plant health and animal welfare
  • Improved productivity and competitiveness
  • Preserving rural resilience and traditional farming and landscapes in the uplands
  • Public access to the countryside
  • Not public goods but still important; Risk management and resilience, Fairness in the supply chain

Whilst profit for some businesses is not the main driver, succession, asset improvement and a desire to enhance the countryside are also important objectives. However, without the backing of a profitable business, investment for change can be difficult.

Access to sound, well tested advice will play an important part in an industry with less reliance from CAP support, to build a resilient and a sustainable future. Hutchinsons in their 80th year, are well placed to assist in the transition.

Mike Hutchinson