Marginal fields previously taken out of production could be used to alleviate forage availability concerns for some farmers this summer, according to one consultant.
Andrew Atkinson of Strutt & Parker‘s Newbury office said fields classed as “GAEC 12 Agricultural land not in agricultural production” could be brought back into use to provide hay without breaching Single Farm Payment rules.
“The GAEC 12 Rules state that uncropped land cannot be cut until after 31 July, and that only 50% can be cut in any one year. However, you are allowed to bring this land back into production at any point, and at that point the GAEC 12 rules cease to apply.”
Mowing for hay constitutes as “bringing land back into production” and could be done at any point without fear of Single Farm Payment penalties, he said. “All you are required to do is record the date that you are bringing the land back into production, and how you are doing it, so that in the event of an inspection you can provide the inspector with the details.”
Doing so would have no implication for future years and land could go back to being uncropped “OT2” land on next year’s Single Farm Payment form, he noted. “There is quite a bit of long-term uncropped land in this part of the world and this loophole will help a number of our clients out of a potentially expensive hole,” said Mr Atkinson.
Find out more about the cross compliance rules on the Rural Payments Agency website.