New data released by the Labour Party shows that the rural South West is projected to lose £23,244,399.84 this year alone, pushing family farms to the brink of closure as a result of the Government’s rushed withdrawal of the Basic Payments Scheme for farmers.
The party’s analysis, based on figures from the Rural Payments Agency, lays bare just how big a hit the rural economy overall stands to take from what Labour say is the Government’s ‘reckless approach’ to the scheme, risking the equivalent of 861 agricultural jobs.
Labour supports the principle of reforming farm payments, but has spoken out about the Government’s reckless approach which is leading to a cliff edge, with 76% of farmers nationally saying the new payments won’t be enough.
The new environmental land management payment schemes – intended to replace the current Basic Payments Scheme – are still being designed, tested and piloted, with no plans for replacement payments being available until 2022/23 at the earliest.
Labour has joined the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) in calling for an urgent review of this policy.
The Party’s vocal opposition on this matter comes as Labour launches their Rural England Policy Review, which was announced by leader Sir Keir Starmer in a February speech to the NFU. This will be led by local Plymouth Sutton and Devonport MP Luke Pollard.
Commenting on the cuts to farm payments, Shadow Defra Secretary and Plymouth MP Luke Pollard said:
“Farm payments need reform, but it’s shocking that farmers and rural businesses here in the South West stand to lose £23million this year alone as a result of this Government’s reckless cuts.
“The Government needs to get a grip on this, review it, and provide the security that rural voters in the West Country need as they recover and rebuild. We deserve our fair share of funding.
“Labour’s Rural England Policy Review is seeking views from voters here in the South West and across the country as we work to ensure that our next manifesto provides as much hope and opportunity to rural communities as it does to those living in towns and cities.”
Commenting on the luanch of Labour’s Rural England Policy Review, Luke Pollard said:
“I am pleased that Keir Starmer has asked me to lead Labour’s Rural England Policy Review.
“The past decade of Tory rule has weakened the foundations of rural communities, with funding for transport and health services cut and community hubs such as village shops, post offices and pubs allowed to close.
“The review will seek evidence on all of this and more, setting out Labour’s ambition to become the natural home for rural voters once more.”