Transition Plan Published
On 30th November, Defra published its Agricultural Transition Plan. Secretary of State George Eustice went the rounds of the television studios remotely and appeared in an Oxford Farming Conference webinar. Whilst the plan outlines the aspirations of the new agricultural policy, most of which we knew already, it has virtually no detail – again! As one commentator put it, the paper is a statement forecasting future statements.
The Rural Payments Agency claims that more than 95% of farmers received their Basic Payment for 2020 on 1st December, the first day of the payment window, a total of £1.67 billion. In addition, £40 million of Countryside Stewardship and £60 million of Environmental Stewardship grants were also expected to be paid in the first few days. The RPA said it was on track to deliver its best ever payment performance.
Licensing of Grouse Moors
The Scottish Government has announced plans to introduce the licensing of grouse shoots. Legislation will be introduced in the next parliamentary term. This contradicts the recommendation of the Werrity Report commissioned by the Scottish Government which suggested that licensing be introduced if, after five years, self-regulation had not brought improvement, particularly the illegal persecution of raptors.
A farmer in Wiltshire who confronted a group of illegal hare coursers on his farm had a gun put to his head and was told he would be shot dead. Fortunately, the threat was not carried through. The police later raided a nearby traveller camp, arrested three men and recovered two firearms.