''It's complicated'': Farmers react to proposals to pay older famers to retire

  • Report by Adam Fowler

Farmers in our region say the government's proposal to pay older members of the sector to retire to make way for the younger generation is ''complicated.''

The Environment Secretary has launched a consultation to examine whether a lump sum exit scheme would be attractive to famers nearing retiring age and in turn whether it would provide new opportunities for younger people.

Nearly four in 10 UK farmers are over the age of 65 - with an average age of 59.

Farmer Stephen Thompson is over sixty and it is farmers like him who could be offered a cash incentive to retire, of up to a hundred thousand pounds, if the new government scheme goes ahead.

He says he is sceptical:

''When you look at the fine detail, it looks like any money that the farmers are due over the next ten years. It will all come to me and then Oliver will take over with no income from it, so it does seem pretty pointless taking the next generation's money when they won't be able to make a livelihood out of the farm when I've taken it already.''

Twenty-six year old Oliver Macintosh works on his parents farm.

The government want to reward sustainable farming practices. 

In Doncaster, twenty-six year old Oliver Macintosh, who works on his parents farm says if the government want to help, they should make sure British farms aren't undercut by foreign imports that don't meet the same environmental standards.

''It makes  sense to try and aim us towards a more sustainable future.  I think it's very important to remember still that the farmland that we have does need to produce food for the general population.  We found during lockdown the supermarket shelves were empty and we can't forget that UK farmers are good at what we do which is farming.''

In a statement, the environment secretary said the scheme will offer all of those who want to exit the industry ''all of the payments they would have received until the end of the transition period'' to help clear bills.

Farmers are invited to submit their views to the government by the eleventh of August so they can have their say on the future of farming.