Farming Comment: Sally Watts on the ‘greening’ measures required under the new CAP reforms

Sally Watts of Clarke & Simpson Sally Watts of Clarke & Simpson

Monday, August 25, 2014
6:00 AM

Although the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will not come into force until January 1, 2015, farmers need to plan now in respect of the “greening” Ecological Focus Area (EFA) options for their 2015 cropping plans.

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All BPS claimants will be required to comply with greening measures designed to demonstrate that the farm is being farmed in ways beneficial to the climate and environment. The complex rules and regulations, as a result of the EU CAP reform agreed in December 2013, are still coming to light.

Of the three greening rules farmers must satisfy (crop diversification, maintaining permanent pasture land and introducing EFAs to the farm), EFAs are the subject of this column. Farmers with more than 15ha of arable land, will need to work out, using a formula defined by Defra, how to provide 5% of their arable land as an EFA greening measure. (This compulsory EFA area is likely to increase to 7% in 2018.)

The planning process is further complicated if a farmer has some of his land within an existing Entry Level Stewardship scheme (ELS). If the scheme commenced before January 1, 2012, the options within the ELS will contribute to the EFA calculation without penalty. ELS schemes commencing after this date will have a reduction in payment applied.

The five qualifying EFA options defined by Defra are: buffer strips adjacent to a water course, nitrogen fixing crops (such as beans and peas), cover and catch crops, land lying fallow and hedges. We are advising our clients not to use hedges in their 2015 claim as this may delay the payment of the subsidy on account of the mapping requirement under this new scheme.

The EFAs opted for must be located on the arable land (or adjacent to the arable land in the case of hedges). The farmer must first calculate how much land is needed to meet the 5% requirement and then calculate the area on the ground using set conversion and/or weighting factors.

For example, a requirement for 1ha of EFA greening could be achieved by growing 1.43ha of beans, or leaving 1ha of fallow or sowing 3.33ha of green/catch crop. The 1ha could also be achieved by identifying and managing 1,000metres of hedge next to arable fields or providing 1,111.11m of buffer strip (next to a water course).

To contact Sally Watts, call 01728 621200 or email swatts@clarkeandsimpson.co.uk .

: : Sally Watts is an estate management surveyor at Clarke & Simpson,

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