CAP Reform: Greening Implications For Livestock Farmers

6th March 2013

Recent voting in Europe has moved a step closer to confirming the likely effects of Greening on livestock farmers and will have the largest impact on dairy farmers.

The definition for Permanent Pasture (PP) has now been changed to grass land left unploughed for seven years – this land must not be included in the crop rotation. Farmers claiming the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will have to preserve 95% of their PP.

Farmers whose land is at least 75% permanent grassland or land used for growing grass or forage, and where the remaining land does not exceed 50ha will be exempt from the other Greening measures of Ecological Focus Area (EFA) and Crop Diversification (CD).

The EFA rule requires farmers with over 10ha of arable land to leave 3% unfarmed, including fallow land, hedgerows, ditches etc.

Where arable land is between 10ha and 30ha, the CD rule will require that at least two different crops are grown. Where arable land covers more than 30ha, there must be three crops grown, each crop not being more than 75% or less than 5%of the total arable area.

Livestock farmers with largely permanent pasture

Those farmers who appear to have got off most lightly from Greening are farmers with significant areas of permanent grassland. Farms where land is not usually ploughed, e.g. upland farms look unlikely to be impacted by the PP, EFA and CD.

Livestock farmers with arable or improved grassland

Dairy farmers look to be hardest hit by all three of the Greening measures. Many dairy farms would look to improve grass leys every five to ten years. If caught by the PP rule, it could force farmers to bring ploughing forward to avoid allocation as PP. With many dairy farmers also growing maize or a wholecrop, they could also be hit by EFA and CD.

Mixed farmers are also likely to see impacts from all three Greening measures. Where a farm has improved grassland they could be drawn into the PP rule. If a mixed farmer grows more than 10ha of barley every year for feed, the CD and EFA rules will apply. This will force the farmer to plant at least two crops in future.

Larger mixed farms look to be in a better position regarding EFA and CD. They may already comply with CD through having a variety of crops, and indeed some farms can account for the 3% EFA required through hedgerows etc.

The recent voting in the Agriculture Committee does provides some relief for farmers amongst the doom and gloom of Greening.

The voting appears to be in favour of Organic farmers and those in Agri-environment schemes being exempt from some or all of the Greening requirements.

Conclusion

The Agriculture Committee vote on the CAP Reform confirms that Greening measures as they now stand have the potential for significant effects on the economic viability and management decisions made by farming businesses.

Owners of farming businesses would do well to keep a close eye on upcoming developments and decisions made by the European Ministers and the European Parliament, and seek advice where necessary.

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