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UK to continue farm subsidies for years after Brexit

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London (AFP)

The British government said Thursday it will match European Union subsidies for farmers for several years after Brexit, until it puts in place a new system focusing more on environmental protection.

British farmers receive around £3 billion (3.37 billion euros, $4.06 billion) a year from the bloc's Common Agricultural Policy, of which around three-quarters is delivered through direct payments, according to the National Farmers Union (NFU).

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the government would match these so-called Basic Payment Scheme funds for "a number of years" beyond a two-year transition intended to ease Britain's withdrawal.

The Times newspaper reported that the money would continue until 2024 under the proposals, which will be put out to consultation later this year.

"That guaranteed income should provide time for farmers to change their business model if necessary, help to make the investment necessary for any adjustments and prepare for the future," Gove told a farming conference in Oxford.

Britain will leave the CAP when it leaves the EU in March 2019, but is seeking a transition period in which the relationship with Brussels will continue on similar terms.

The government had already promised to protect the total amount of funds allocated to farming support until 2022.

Gove said a new system of subsidies after Brexit would take greater account of efforts to protect and enhance the environment, such as through planting woodland and increasing biodiversity.

Allowing public access to farms, and innovative use of technology could also be linked to public funds, he said.

He said the EU system was "fundamentally flawed", adding: "Paying landowners for the amount of agricultural land they have is unjust, inefficient, and drives perverse outcomes."

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