Growers see crop diversification exemption benefit

An exemption to the crop diversification requirements under CAP reform may be of help to those whose land holding changes from year to year because of specialist cropping, writes Alice De Soer from the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers.

Arable land included on the 2014 SPS claim may affect the use of this exemption next year.

At first glance, it can seem complicated – the exemption covers a farmer’s position in terms of his arable area in 2015 and compares it with 2014.

This makes completion of the SPS 2014 claim important.

See also: Lack of SPS detail hampering farm business decisions

There are two aspects that the farmer has to meet to be able to use this exemption. First, at least half of the arable land he includes on his Basic Payment Scheme 2015 claim must be new land, so those fields cannot have been included on his SPS 2014 claim.

Crop diversification requirements

  • Claimant must grow at least two different crops when arable land exceeds 10ha up to 30ha and at least three crops when arable land area exceeds 30ha
  • Main crop must not cover 
more than 75% of arable land
  • The two main crops together must not cover more than 
95% of the arable area
  • Winter and spring varieties will count as different crops

Secondly, all of the arable land he includes on his 2015 claim has to be growing a different crop to that which was grown in 2014.

One question that has arisen is how, in the absence of specific crop codes in 2014, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is going check what arable crop was being grown in 2014 and compare that with the 2015 cropping.

The RPA has confirmed that farmers should ensure they have items such as crop traceability records, seed labels, spray records and invoices available to demonstrate the 2014 cropping if they are inspected in 2015.

However, as at least half of the land concerned has to be on someone else’s SPS 2014 claim form, the prospective Basic Payment System (BPS) 2015 claimant needs to ensure that he obtains these records from the 2014 occupier.

It is important that farmers think carefully now whether they may be able to make use of this crop diversification exemption.

The arable land that is being included on their SPS 2014 claim and the crop that is being grown on that land will influence their ability to use it in 2015.

This exemption specifically applies to crop diversification – others may also apply to the Ecological Focus Area (EFA) requirement.