Agri-environment In 2014 And Beyond
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) framework of ‘regulations’ which determines how money is spent, and the rules that apply, are currently being reviewed and negotiated following initial proposals from the European Commission being published over a year ago. We review the latest developments.
The current state of play is that member states have input through the Agriculture Council and associated working groups. Agreement between Member States is getting closer and likely to be in place in the next couple of months.
The European Parliament (EP) is also considering the Commission proposals and the Agriculture Committee of the Parliament have agreed their proposed amendments. These now need to be reviewed and subsequently amended or endorsed in a plenary session of the full EP anticipated in March.
New Environmental Land Management Scheme (NELMS)
Work is underway to design a New Environmental Land Management Scheme (NELMS) to sit within the new Rural Development Programme. The intention is to build on good practice and lessons from the current programme and incorporate the best elements of Environmental Stewardship, Catchment Sensitive Farming and the English Woodland Grants Scheme. Stakeholders and the farming industry are being consulted on details for the design of NELMs including the opportunity to engage on the over-arching scheme principles, scheme structure and targeting, and the detailed scheme options.
Transition of new Environmental Stewardship Agreements
Many agri-environment agreements will expire between the end of the current programme in December 2013 and the start of the new programme in 2015. Defra has confirmed that from 2015 onwards, all new Environmental Stewardship agreements will have a single start date of 1 January every year, rather than monthly starts as at present. Therefore, it is likely the first new agreement will not start until 1 January 2016. Defra are actively discussing with the European Commission what can be done in the interim period to allow a smooth transition to the new programme.
CAP Delivery Programme
It has been confirmed that, from scheme year 2015, Defra will introduce a single computer system for all CAP funding in England, irrespective of the delivery body the funding came through.
As part of the drive to cut red tape in farming, recipients will only have to enter their details once to a single point of contact rather than for each CAP scheme they apply for.