The Rural Payments Agency has clarified its advice on how farmers should code ‘insurance’ set-aside when filling in their SP5 form.

 

The agency has updated its frequently asked questions on its website in response to queries raised by the NFU, consultants and Farmers Weekly.

 

The guidance makes it clear that in general the RPA wants to see any land over and above the obligatory seta-side requirement split off and coded OT2.

 

But it has acknowledged that some farmers have already completed their SP5 application form and included additional set-aside land as SA1 without having identified the additional area as a split parcel.

 

“For 2006 only, we will automatically take any additional land that has been coded and managed as set-aside over and above that required to activate an applicant’s set-aside entitlements and use that land to activate normal entitlements held by the applicant.”

 

The FAQ in full are as follows:

 

1. A farmer wants to set-aside a little more than his set-aside requirement as insurance to allow for a margin of error in his calculations. How should he record and manage this land?

In general, any additional land not in agricultural production should be coded OT2 and managed according to GAEC 12 management rules. (Advice on meeting these standards is available from Momenta by calling 0845 345 1302 or from their web site www.crosscompliance.org.uk.) More detailed advice on particular situations is given below through reference to a number of examples:

 

·              The farmer has a land parcel 8.05 ha in area and 8 set-aside entitlements. He manages the entire area as set-aside.  He puts 8 ha in column C10 of his field data sheet and uses code SA1 for column C8.  The remaining 0.05 ha is below the minimum size of 0.1 ha to be recorded as a split parcel and so is not separately identified on the field data sheet. The farmer then finds the row in section E on which his set-aside entitlements are recorded and either enters 8 ha in column E6 or ticks the ‘all’ box – either would show that he wishes to activate all 8 set-aside entitlements.

 

·              The farmer has a field 8.1 ha in area and 8 set-aside entitlements. He can split the field into 2 separate land parcels and should do so if he wishes to use the additional 0.1 ha to activate part of a normal entitlement. If he does not wish to claim payment on the additional area, he would not be penalised for simply recording 8 ha in column C10 without splitting the field and using that area to activate his set-aside entitlements in part E. The field should be managed under a regime that would be compatible with both set-aside and GAEC12.

 

·              The farmer has a land parcel 8.25 ha in area and 8 set-aside entitlements. He wishes to use the additional 0.25 ha to activate normal entitlements, but to manage the whole 8.25 ha as fallow.  He enters the field as 2 split parcels on his field data sheet: 8 ha is coded as SA1 and entered as 8 ha in column c10; 0.25 ha is coded as OT2 and entered as 0.25 ha in column 10.  He uses 8 ha to activate set-aside entitlements in Part E of the application form and 0.25 ha to activate normal entitlements.  The 8 ha block must be managed as set-aside; the 0.25 ha must be managed according to GAEC 12. The entire 8.25 ha could be managed under a common regime that would satisfy the requirements for both set-aside and GAEC12, which would also allow the 0.25 ha to be used as “insurance” set-aside if required.

 

(If you have already submitted your application for 2006 see Q1(a) below).

 

Specific guidance on 2006 applications

1(a) I have already completed my SP5 application form and included additional set-aside land coded as SA1 and without having identified the additional area as a split parcel. What should I do?

For 2006 only, we will automatically take any additional land that has been coded and managed as set-aside over and above that required to activate an applicant’s set-aside entitlements and use that land to activate normal entitlements held by the applicant.

 

Treatment of land being used for the production of industrial crops

1( b) Where farmers have entered into set-aside industrial crop contracts for a larger area than their set-aside obligation, how should they record this on their application form in 2006?

The requirement is for the contracted area, combined with any un-cropped set-aside also established by the applicant, to cover at least the area required to activate all of their set-aside entitlements. It will not contravene the scheme rules if the contract has been concluded for a larger area than that required for set-aside, although the processor would have an incentive to amend the contract downwards to secure the release of part of his security. However, any surplus land should be separately identified and coded according to its actual use and not as NF1. The requirements to deliver the entire produce of the area concerned and to achieve at least the representative yield would both be enforced for the set-aside area and not the entire contract.  {For instance, a farmer has entered into an industrial crops contract for 9 ha, but is only allocated 8 ha of set-aside entitlements. He would be required to deliver all of the production from the 8 ha of set-aside and to achieve the representative yield on that area.} For 2006 only, provided all of the rules have been observed including submission of declarations etc, we will regard the additional land under contract as qualifying as set-aside in the event that the applicant has not otherwise declared sufficient area to activate all of his set-aside entitlements. In this situation, the requirement to deliver the entire produce of the area and achieve at least the representative yield would both be enforced for the entire area being used to activate set-aside entitlements.

 

2. Should a sketch map be submitted to show this insurance land?

Yes, a sketch map should be submitted to show where a field is split between land meeting the set-aside requirement and extra insurance land.

(If you have already submitted your application for 2006 see Q1(a) above).

 

3. Can horses, including pet horses, be grazed on set-aside land?

No.

Horses, pet or otherwise cannot be grazed on set-aside during the set-aside period.

 

4. Which set-aside code should be used?

Most normal set-aside should be coded SA1. Only farmers with land in the following specific categories should use the codes below:

·      Non-food crops grown on set-aside land – NF1

·      Non-food crops grown on set-aside land in multiannual agreements – NF2

·      EU Farm woodland-type schemes on set-aside land – SA2

·      Agri-environment land in set-aside – SA3


5. Can I control weeds on my set-aside land?

You may use herbicides or cutting to control aggressive weeds, crop volunteers or vigorous growth. Please consult Paragraphs 77 to 85 of the 2006 Set-Aside Handbook for the specific rules and dates for apply individual treatments.