At last farmers can start to plan with more certainty for next year

With the next round of reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) due to take effect at the start of 2015, the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson, has finally given some clarity to farmers on the rules that will be applied after transition from the current Single Farm Payment (SFP) scheme to the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

 

Under the ‘greening’ rules, which will ensure that farmers receive a 30% payment top up to their BPS, those with more than 15 hectares of arable land will be required to keep 5% of this area as Ecological Focus Area (EFA).  The minister has chosen a limited range of options for this EFA in order to reduce the administrative burden on the Rural Payments Agency and not jeopardise their ability to make timely payments under the new regime.  These options are:

 

  • Land Lying fallow
  • Buffer Strips
  • Catch and Cover Crops
  • Nitrogen Fixing Crops
  • Hedges

 

Where farmers have existing Entry Level Stewardship agreements in place, there is to be no double funding element through ‘greening’ and affected farmers will be able to choose either to make up any shortfall or exit to the existing agreement without penalty.

 

The minister also confirmed that the current cross compliance list of 17 requirements to which farmers must adhere to maintain land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) will be reduced to 11.

 

Richard Fearnall, from chartered surveyors Wilson Fearnall comments: “Finally farmers have been given some detail on the practical elements of CAP reform that will allow them to start planning for 2014 – 15 cropping regimes. “

 

Fearnall continues: “Whilst there will inevitably be some further devil in the detail, it will be a relief to many that nitrogen fixing crops such as peas and beans, have been included in the options, but disappointing that Landscape Features (ponds, water courses and woodlands) have been removed.”

 

Farmers are advised to start planning as soon as possible, but also keep an eye out for further detailed proposals that are yet to be announced by DEFRA and the Rural Payments Agency.

Related posts