Support payments are a critical part of farmers’ incomes so how DEFRA intends to implement CAP reform in England is a hugely important topic.

Over the next few weeks DEFRA will take decisions that directly effect producers’ bottom line and future prospects.

The government has now published a consultation paper which outlines its thinking on the shape of a replacement for the Single Payment Scheme.

Farmers only have 28 days to respond.

Modulation

One of the most controversial proposals in the package is DEFRA’s intention to introduce a modulation rate of 15% for England’s farmers.

The government has said it is minded to shift the maximum amount possible – 15% – from direct payments into rural development and agri-enviromental schemes.

In the foreword to the document, DEFRA minister Owen Paterson said he strongly championed the rural development element of the CAP.

“It delivers significant public goods in a way that the direct subsidy payments cannot,” he said.

“My view is that it unquestionably represents better use of taxpayers’ money.”

However, farm leaders have hit back at the plan, with the NFU suggesting only 9% modulation is necessary and the CLA saying 15% modulation will hamper agricultural investment .

Payment rates per hectare

Another issue up for debate is the recommendation to shift payment levels so that money moves away from lowland areas and towards the uplands.

A new Basic Payment Scheme will replace the current Single Payment Scheme.

And DEFRA is proposing that the current payment regions should stay the same (lowland, severely disadvantaged areas and moorland) and the entitlements a farmer holds on 31 December 2014 rolled forward into the new scheme.

But it is suggesting payments are increased for SDA ground and moorland so the rates are closer to €236/ha (£210/ha) for lowland and SDA farmers and €62/ha(£53/ha) for moorland producers .

Greening requirements

On the issue of greening, DEFRA has decided to go with the approach set out by the EU, rather than introduce its own scheme.

This means farmers will have to comply with crop diversification rules, maintain permanent pasture and establish Ecological Focus Areas.

The news has pleased farm leaders – although they have said they will lobby for changes in the crop diversification rule – but upset some environmentalists who would have liked to see environmental standards ratcheted up .

Young Farmers Scheme

The consultation also includes details of the new Young Farmers Scheme.

Agri-environment schemes

DEFRA is also proposing replacing the existing agri-environmental schemes with one new environmental land management scheme that builds on Environmental Stewardship, the English Woodland Grant Scheme and the Catchment Sensitive Scheme.

What do you make of the proposals? You can respond to DEFRA’s CAP implementation consultation online.

Farmers Weekly is also keen to hear from a wide range of farmers to get your views on the proposals. You can leave your comments below or email Farmers Weekly .