11 August 1995

IACSchanges permit land parcel swaps

By Peter Bullen

IACS rules have been changed to allow farmers to swap parcels of land eligible for area payments with non-eligible land on their holding.

But they will have to produce "sufficient proof" that the swap is necessary for plant health, agronomic or environmental reasons. No increase in the area of eligible land on a holding will be permitted. No swaps can be made between yield regions and some environmentally important categories of land are excluded from the swap scheme.

Producers will have to apply to their MAFF regional service centre on form IACS 21. Tenant farmers must first seek written approval from their landlord. Detailed rules will be published in the payments scheme booklet expected in early September.

The NFU has welcomed the increased flexibility MAFFs announcement will bring. Those likely to benefit most from the change are livestock producers also growing cereals.

Instead of being locked into using the same land year after year for cereals they should now be able to switch an area of ineligible pasture (providing the grassland has been cultivated within the past 20 years) for an identical area of their eligible arable land.

Another reason for a swap could be where eligible land has to be taken out of production as a disease precaution.

Generally farmers will not be able to swap land which is within a designated area like a site of special scientific interest or land covered by management agreements under nitrate or environmentally sensitive areas, or countryside stewardship and similar schemes.