Michael Gove is planning to limit payments to wealthy farmers and redistribute them to environmental projects for a ‘green’ Brexit.
Farming subsidies will be replaced by payments for “public goods”, from boosting access to the countryside to recreating wildflower meadows.
The Environment Secretary has set out his plan for replacing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which supports farmers in EU member states.
In a speech to the Oxford Farming Conference, he criticised the “fundamentally flawed” system that was designed – “like so many aspects of the EU” – for “another world” in the post-war period.
Mr Gove argued the CAP produced a “perverse” outcome, rewarding rich farms and “mathematically-precise field margins” – rather than “ecologically healthy landscapes”.
“I want to develop a new method of providing financial support for farmers which moves away from subsidies for inefficiency to public money for public goods,” he said.
Image: Michael Gove has announced a raft of measures recently
The new scheme will be designed for landowners who want to create new spaces for wildlife, improve water quality and turn crop-fields into meadows “or other more natural states”.
And it will see the current £3bn sum paid to landowners continue until 2022 – longer than the Government had previously pledged.
After that, payments will be based on public goods, with investment focused on enhancing the environment.
“Enhancing our natural environment is a vital mission for this Government,” he said.
“We are committed to ensuring we leave the environment in a better condition than we found it. And leaving the European Union allows us to deliver the policies required to achieve that – to deliver a green Brexit.”
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The speech comes on the back of a raft of policy announcements by Mr Gove, a leading Brexiteer who re-joined the Cabinet after the Conservatives’ election gamble backfired.
He has announced plans for longer jail terms for animal cruelty and a deposit return scheme of drink bottles in England.