FARMERS have been advised to have a detailed look at their business and its performance in the two years left of direct payments.

But, Elliot Taylor, associate at George F White, said they should do so by taking subsidy payments out of their calculations and decide which path may be best for them.

He was responding to publication of the new Agriculture Bill which Michael Gove, Environment Minister, announced last week.

Mr Taylor said the announcement allowed farmers and their advisers to start planning for the future.

He said: "While the ‘smooth and gradual’ seven-year transition beginning in 2021 is very welcome, it is clear by the end of this period things will be very different.

"We will have two years in advance of this to take advantage of the current direct payment system. I would encourage all farmers to use this period wisely and have a close and detailed look at their business and its performance taking subsidy payments out of any calculations."

Mr Taylor said there may be two paths available to farmers going forward.

Some may look to focus on production and take advantage of the future funding opportunities for investment, innovation and efficiency. Others may look to focus on the environment, air and water, taking advantage of non-direct targeted payments for delivery of “public goods”.

"Either way current farming systems may need to be adapted significantly to maximise the potential income to the farm business," he said. "At the end of the transition period those businesses who have not adapted could in real terms not receive any subsidy payment as direct payments are fully phased out. What is very clear is that Mr Gove will not simply pay for the occupation of land.

"What is important is to take advantage of any opportunities which may come along, remembering that your farm is unique and needs to be treated as such. Most of us will have seen a number of reforms of the agricultural subsidy system during our lifetimes and what is clear to me is that those businesses who are proactive will make best use of what lies in front of them.”