Time To Start Planning
After much delay DEFRA has started to release crucial information regarding the Greening element of the new Basic Payment Scheme. Claire Bainbridge, Director of Research at George F White said “It’s a huge relief to farmers in our region that the detail has started to filter through to enable planning for these new rules and regulations.
One of the elements that we were waiting for was the list of options to choose from for Environmental Focus Areas (EFA’s). 5% of arable land needs to be used as EFA’s. DEFRA have chosen options that are easy to manage, and more importantly for the RPA, easy to map and administer. The options are: Land lying fallow; Buffer Strips; Catch and Cover Crops, Nitrogen Fixing Crops and Hedges.
Now we have this detail, farmers can really start to assess what they need to do in order to comply with this element of greening, and actively start to calculate areas on farm.
This EFA element of greening is complex and some of the options may also have a conversion factor and weighting requirement, so it will be important to read the detail carefully. For example if you choose to grow an area of peas to cover your 5% requirement, the weighting of 0.7 allocated to Nitrogen Fixing crops will mean you need to actually grow over 7.14%.
DEFRA have also released detail on the issue of using options that coincide with Environmental Stewardship options. The reality is that those with ELS (Uplands and Organic) agreements that commenced after 1st January 2012 will have their ELS payments adjusted to reflect the double funding issue. For those agreement holders there will be the opportunity to adjust the agreement to make good the shortfall or exit the scheme without penalty. For all ELS agreements prior to 1st January 2012 and ALL HLS agreements, there will be no double funding issue”.
Claire was also pleased to see the news that the requirement to keep the Soil Protection Review has been removed. “Removing unnecessary bureaucracy and paperwork is always a good thing, especially for farmers, who generally would prefer to be actively farming, than shuffling paper. Alongside this a promised review of the penalty system to become more proportionate is welcome news”.