THE new year brings changes to the way in which British farmers qualify for grants and payments, leading to calls for many to check that they are still financially viable during this turbulent period of transition.

Before the outcome of Brexit, the EU system of payments meant that farmers were paid based on the amount of land that they farmed, with this scheme finishing when the post-Brexit transition period ended on January 1, 2021. The new Environmental Land Management (ELM) system will pay farmers for helping the environment, using initiatives like flood prevention, planting woods and helping wildlife.

England and Scotland: In England, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has set out a roadmap of how the transition will take place. Changes have meant that the payments based on the amount of land a farmer owns will be phased out, to be replaced with the new ELM system.

Defra, the body responsible for announcing the Government’s plan for the transition, has stated that direct payments will be reduced over the next four years for English farmers, starting from January 1, 2021. These reductions will continue until they are eventually removed in 2027.

In Scotland, new regulations also came into force from the New Year’s Day. However, the degree of such change is unclear. The change in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from the UK Conservative Government in Westminster has led to opposition from the SNP Scottish Government in Westminster, who claim that such changes will bring losses of £170m per year to Scotland’s rural budget.

In what seem very uncertain times for Scottish farmers, with differing views from opposing directions, what appears certain is the fact that the next couple of years, at least, are likely to bring significant financial change for farmers across Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Farmers should action now: The reality for current farmers is that they need to make sure that they not only understand that change is necessary, but make sure that they are financially sustainable for the following years of transition.

Key questions farmers need to ask themselves are, in light of these changes: do you know your own profit margins? Are you sustainable enough to continue during the years of transition with a reduced, or even without, the old Common Agricultural Policy available to you pre-Brexit? And perhaps looking toward the future – are there other environmental grant schemes that you could benefit from in the years to come?

If have any queries, visit the Douglas Home & Co website at, call the team on 01573 225082 or email to book a consultation.