Farm payments if there’s a no-deal Brexit

Updated 21 October 2019

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This notice explains how payments under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) schemes would be affected if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

As the UK will have the freedom to design its own agricultural policy after leaving the EU, the nature of support for the agricultural sector will change. The Agriculture Bill will legislate for those changes in England. The future of agricultural policy has been the subject of a public consultation in each country of the UK:

The devolved administrations and UK government are working together to determine where UK frameworks need to be established.

Current situation

Currently, financial support for the agricultural sector comes from our participation in the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). This makes EU funds available to reimburse, fully or in part, the support payments the UK government makes to the sector. The UK is currently a net contributor to the EU budget, and all EU funding is derived from funding by UK taxpayers.

The current EU regulations governing the CAP for the 2014-2020 programme include regulations (EU) 1303/2013, 1305/2013, 1306/2013, 1307/2013 and 1308/2013. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the lead for the UK government on overall negotiations and reporting to the EU on the CAP, and is responsible for administering the CAP in England. The devolved administrations are responsible for administering the CAP in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

After a no-deal Brexit

Eligible beneficiaries will continue to receive payments under the terms of the UK government’s funding guarantee.

Defra and the devolved administrations are preparing domestic legislation (under the Withdrawal Act) to ensure the UK has the ability in law to continue operation of payments in a ‘no-deal’ scenario. This legislation preserves the EU law as it currently stands, and ‘fixes’ the legislation so that it is operable after the UK leaves the EU.

The domestic legislation will require beneficiaries to conform to the same standards as they do currently, to receive payments. This will include on-site inspections to UK farms receiving payments, which will continue as normal.

All of these rules and processes will remain the same until Defra and the devolved administrations introduce new agriculture policies, either through the Agriculture Bill, or an Agriculture Bill in one or more of the devolved parliaments.

The government has pledged to continue to commit the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of this parliament, expected in 2022. This includes all funding provided for farm support under both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 of the current CAP. This commitment applies to the whole UK.

This notice is meant for guidance only. You should consider whether you need separate professional advice before making specific preparations.

The UK government is clear that in this scenario it must respect its unique relationship with Ireland, with whom the UK shares a land border and who are co-signatories of the Belfast Agreement. The UK government has consistently placed upholding the Agreement and its successors at the heart of its approach. It enshrines the consent principle on which Northern Ireland’s constitutional status rests. The UK government recognises the basis it has provided for the deep economic and social co-operation on the island of Ireland. This includes North-South co-operation between Northern Ireland and Ireland, which we’re committed to protecting in line with the letter and spirit of Strand two of the Agreement.

The Irish government have indicated they would need to discuss arrangements in the event of no-deal with the European Commission and EU member states. The UK would in this scenario aim to meet its commitments and act in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland, recognising the very significant challenges that the lack of a UK-EU legal agreement would pose in this unique and highly sensitive context.

It remains, though, the responsibility of the UK government, as the sovereign government in Northern Ireland, to continue preparations for the full range of potential outcomes, including ‘no-deal’. The UK government will take full account of the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland.

Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area and participate in other EU arrangements. As such, in many areas, these countries adopt EU rules. Where this is the case, these technical notices may also apply to them, and EEA businesses and citizens should consider whether they need to take any steps to prepare for a ‘no-deal’ scenario.