Farmers in England who wish to leave the industry can now apply for the new Lump Sum Exit Scheme which will provide a payment so they can exit the sector in a managed way. 

In return, farmers will be expected to either rent or sell their land or surrender their tenancy in order to create opportunities for new entrants and farmers wishing to expand their businesses.

The Scheme, which is open until 30 September 2022, follows a public consultation and builds on evidence that some farmers would like to retire or leave the industry but have found it difficult to do so for financial reasons.

The exit payment provided to eligible applicants will be based on the average direct payments made to the farmer for the 2019 to 2021 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) years. This reference figure will be capped at £42,500 and multiplied by 2.35 to calculate the lump sum, meaning that farmers could receive up to around £100,000.

Supporting new entrants

Defra said it wants to support new entrants coming into the industry and will be giving more detail of next steps in the near future.

“The decision to retire or exit the industry can be extremely difficult and is frequently postponed. The purpose of the Lump Sum Exit Scheme is to assist farmers who want to exit the industry to do so in a planned way that provides them with the means to make a meaningful choice about their future. The Scheme will also free up land for new entrants to farming, and we will be saying more about our new entrants scheme shortly,” said environment secretary George Eustice.

How to apply

The Lump Sum Exit Scheme guidance, including how to apply, can be found here.

The Future Farming Resilience Fund, which provides free expert business advice to BPS recipients in England, is still open for applications. Defra said its delivery partners will be able to support farmers in making decisions on how to ensure they have viable businesses or indeed to make the decision to exit the sector. A further phase of support will be launched in late September and will run until March 2025.