Jim Paice makes stewardship pledge to farmers

Farmers in England should be able to opt out of an agri-environment scheme agreement without penalty if they have to be changed as a result of CAP greening, farm minister Jim Paice has pledged.

Concern over plans for the greening of the CAP has been making many producers think twice before renewing or entering a stewardship agreement.

Plans unveiled by EU farm commissioner Dacian Ciolos in October would require all farmers to ensure 7% of their land was taken out of production and designated as an ecological focus area.

Farmers have been worried that this requirement might be on top of any land entered into a stewardship scheme, arguing that they would be end up being penalised for taking steps to enhance the environment.

In a statement released on Monday (12 December) Mr Paice said he wanted to make sure that English farmers who are thinking about entering or renewing agri-environment agreements could choose to opt out without penalty if they had to make changes to their agreements as a result of CAP greening.

“We’ll do everything we possibly can to make sure farmers aren’t disadvantaged because of having been ahead of the game on environmental management,” he said.

“We’ve already told the Commissioner about this a number of times, and it seems he’s listening to our concerns.

“We strongly believe that stewardship schemes are the best way to get better environmental protection from the CAP, but if changes do have to be made to them, at the very least farmers would be able to opt out.”

See more