LONDON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Britain’s farming and environment minister Michael Gove on Tuesday launched a consultation which could lead to the phasing out of direct payments to English farmers with funds redirected to a new scheme paying “public money for public goods”.
Farmers currently receive income support through the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) which is based on the amount of land a farmer owns, not how much they produce.
The consultation is seeking views on how to gradually phase out the payments, starting with the largest landowners. The range of public goods that could qualify for funding include high animal welfare standards, wildlife protection, public access and new technologies.
“As we leave the EU, we have a historic opportunity to deliver a farming policy which works for the whole industry,” Gove said in a statement.
“Today we are asking for the views of those who will be affected to make sure we get this right so any future schemes reflect the reality of life for fames and food producers.”
Britain’s government has committed to maintain the current level of farm spending to the end of this parliament in 2022. The distribution of those funds can, however, change.
The consultation paper only covers England. Agriculture in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the devolved administrations of those states.
Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019.
The consultation will run for 10 weeks, closing on May 8. (Reporting by Nigel Hunt, editing by David Evans)