Farmers in England get sight of DEFRA’s CAP plans

DEFRA has decided against introducing its own National Certification Scheme in England in order to meet ‘greening requirements’ as part of CAP reform.

The government has published a consultation paper on how it plans to implement the new CAP in England, in which it says it has decided to stick to the broad approach to greening set out in the EU regulations.

This is despite DEFRA secretary Owen Paterson fighting hard during negotiations for the right to implement equivalence measures.

The consultation concludes that the “additional potential benefits that could be derived are likely to be outweighed by additional delivery risk and complexity for both farmers and the enforcement agencies”.

“We also believe that implementing greening through an NCS approach brings with it an increased risk of disallowance [EU fines].

“It is important that greening is implemented in a way that is achievable and manageable.”

The consultation paper, published on Thursday (31 Oct), also confirms the government’s intention to transfer 15% of direct payments (Pillar 1) to invest in rural development (Pillar 2).

“The government believes that rewarding farmers for the environmental goods they provide is a much better use of taxpayers’ money than providing direct subsidy.

“The government considers that there is a strong case to take full advantage of the flexibility to transfer funds from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2,” it says.

Other recommendations in the consultation include:

  • Basic payment regions will stay the same – ie non severely disadvantaged areas, SDA other than moorland and moorland
  • There will be consultation on lifting the SDA payment rate to the same level as in lowland England and moorland payments could be increased too
  • DEFRA has proposed that a new environmental land management scheme should replace existing environmental stewardship schemes and also cover forestry
  • Ministers have decided that a coupled support scheme should not be reintroduced in England.
  • As part of greening measures, farmers will be required to grow three crop types but winter and spring varieties will count as different crops for the purposes of the regulations.

Farm minister George Eustice said: “The UK ensured that we have choices in how we implement the Common Agricultural Policy, rather than having to work with a one-size-fits-all approach from the European Commission.

“This gives us the flexibility to target funding in ways that will deliver real benefits to the environment, boost the competitiveness of our farming industry and grow the rural economy. It’s vital that the new system is designed with the input of the people whose lives it will affect. That’s why it’s so important that people give us their views on how we can best achieve this.”

More detail to follow….

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