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Environment Secretary announces more detail about the greening element of the CAP changes

02 July 2014

With the Basic Payment Scheme coming into effect in six months’ time, the government announced on 10 June some much needed clarification about how they intend to implement the new “greening” requirements of the revised Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) together with further information about changes to the cross compliance regime.

Greening

The greening element forms 30% of the direct payment to farmers. Under the rules, farmers will be required to designate 5% of their arable area as an Ecological Focus Area (EFA) if they have more than 15 hectares of arable land. When the new system is implemented the following land may be classified as EFA:

  • Buffer strips
  • Fallow land
  • Areas with catch crops or green cover
  • Areas with nitrogen-fixing crops (DEFRA will allow the broadest possible range of crops, and will impose no additional restrictions on their cultivation)
  • Hedges (although DEFRA noted that these will be difficult to map accurately and that farmers proposing to include these will need to be prepared for delays to their payments whilst the mapping is carried out)

Double funding

Farmers with Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) agreements (including Organic ELS agreements) starting on or after 1 January 2012 will need to be careful that those areas which are included in their points calculation for those types of agreements are not also used to meet the EFA requirements of the greening payment. Otherwise this will be considered as “double-funding”.

The EFA requirements will be calculated first and those features in an agreement-holder’s ELS that are put towards the EFA calculation will not be able to earn points toward the ELS agreement.

Agreement-holders will not be affected and are not required to do anything if they are delivering options over and above the ELS points threshold as that should allow them to receive their full ELS payment after the greening calculation has been carried out.

If an agreement-holder does not have sufficient surplus options then they can either amend their ELS agreement to add additional options, accept the reduction in payment or leave the ELS scheme with no penalty.

Higher level scheme agreements are not affected, nor are any agreements entered into before 1 January 2012.

The replacement for the agri-environment schemes and the New Environmental Land Management Scheme (known as NELMS) will also take double-funding into account.

Cross compliance

The burden of cross compliance will be reduced. The number of requirements placed on farmers to keep their land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) will be reduced from 17 to 11. This cut-back includes the following:

  • There will be no requirement to keep a Soil Protection Review, which will be replaced with national standards on soil management
  • There will be no requirement to control injurious weeds and invasive weed species will not be included within cross compliance from 2015
  • The GAEC relating to agricultural land not in agricultural condition will be removed

DEFRA has also announced that it intends to review the penalty system for cross compliance to make it more proportionate.

For more information about the revised CAP and cross compliance regime contact us on 01242 514000.

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Disclaimer: All legal information is correct at the time of publication but please be aware that laws may change over time. This article contains general legal information but should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please seek professional legal advice about your specific situation - contact us; we’d be delighted to help.
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Robin Beckley MA (Oxon)
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Robin Beckley, Willans LLP
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