CAP Reform Implementation Starts

1st November 2013

DEFRA have finally started to decide on the detail of the Cap Reform in England which will impact on business and management decisions on all farms across the region says Claire Bainbridge of George F White.

Defra have published the consultation on the implementation of the CAP Reform which finalises some of the detail which we have been waiting for, as well as proposing the route for England to take on a number of key areas. Two main areas to highlight include the rolling forward of existing entitlements, and the decision to adopt “greening” rather than implementing Englands own bespoke greening measures. DEFRA also proposes to increase the level of funds received by SDA and Moorland regions which would have a real financial impact in our area.

England had the option of either rolling forward existing entitlements or allocating a new set of entitlements. Many will remember, (most farmers), the panic of establishing entitlements in 2005 and will be pleased to know that we don’t have to re-live that again. Now it’s been confirmed that farmers who “hold” the entitlement on the 31st of December 2014 will have those SPS entitlement converted into BPS (Basic Payment Scheme) entitlements. There were concerns that this option may be ruled out due to the RPA’s computer system not being able to handle the conversion, however it looks like these potential technical issues are less of a concern than a whole new system. One area of concern is that those farmers who have historically always had complicated and difficult claims due to technical issues in the past, may continue to have difficulties.

The decision to adopt the greening measure will have the most impact on farmers in their actual day to day farming decisions. From 2015, 30% of the overall payment (direct payment) will be dependent on farmers complying with compulsory greening. These are:

Crop diversification

Growing at least two different crops when there’s more than 10ha of arable land, and three crops when there’s more than 30ha of arable land. It is hoped that DEFRA will allow Winter and Spring varieties to count as two crops.

Permanent grassland

The ratio of permanent grassland to eligible land in England must not fall by more than 5%. Therefore farmers will be restricted in their ability to convert or plough up permanent pasture.

Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs)

When a farm has more than 15ha of arable land, it will need to maintain at least 5% of it as an EFA. Farmers will need to adopt measures from a list of options which include fallow land, field margins, hedges, areas with green cover/nitrogen-fixing crops, buffer strips, trees and afforested areas.

DEFRA is also proposing to “move money uphill” by increasing the SDA payment rate to the same as the lowland payment (currently €236/ha). Moorland payment would nearly double to €62/ha. This is a massive increase and shows that DEFRA is wanting to support those in the uplands where it is significantly more difficult to farm. This will have a real beneficial financial impact on farmers in our region.

Claire concluded “It’s a relief to finally be getting some key decisions and detail which actually impact on farmers, so we can finally start to help and advise”.

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