Demands for delay to CAP greening conditions

Furious Scots cereal growers are heading to the Scottish government to press for a delay to the implementation of strict CAP greening conditions.


A delegation of growers led by NFU Scotland (NFUS) will tackle rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead on 2 October over his team’s decision to impose additional management restrictions on the use of nitrogen-fixing crops.


Although it was known as long ago as June that these crops would count towards meeting the ecological focus area (EFA) requirement, the additional restrictions were only made public last week.


See also: Scots disappointed by CAP greening rules


The Scottish government announced that nitrogen-fixing crops would only count as an EFA if:



  • The crop is not harvested before 1 August each year

  • Crops are surrounded by an EFA field margin when grown next to the edge of the field

  • Two different nitrogen-fixing crops are grown on the EFA area

  • The main crop covers no more than 75% of the total nitrogen-fixing crop area

  • Only cutting, not grazing, will be permitted on EFA buffer strips.

The delegation will be led by NFUS combinable crops chairman Andrew Moir who said that the Scottish government’s decision ran the risk of creating an intricate web of rules that would trap farmers, inspectors and auditors.


Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Moir said: “On principle, we are asking for the Mr Lochhead not to gold-plate in year one of the new scheme and adopt the simple systems that are available.


“Pausing would give farmers the opportunity to work within the basic rules and an impact assessment can identify if the base EU measures have delivered on greening objectives. Then, if necessary, greening extras can be bolted on at the same time as the Scottish government introduces equivalence measures.”
Andrew Moir, NFUS combinable crops chairmain

“Pausing would give farmers the opportunity to work within the basic rules and an impact assessment can identify if the base EU measures have delivered on greening objectives. Then, if necessary, greening extras can be bolted on at the same time as the Scottish government introduces equivalence measures.”


However, in an open letter to the NFUS, Mr Lochhead said it was important to keep the issue of nitrogen-fixing crop management rules in context.


“Only 26% of businesses in Scotland need to comply with the EFA requirements,” Mr Lochhead wrote. “Of those, only 11% grow nitrogen-fixing crops and for less than a tenth of those – fewer than 40 businesses – this greening measure may not be an attractive option as it’s not compatible with growing at least one commercially viable nitrogen-fixing crop.”


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