DEFRA has issued new guidance for farmers clarifying the Single Farm Payment

DEFRA has issued new guidance for farmers, clarifying much of the detail for the 2008 Single Farm Payment.

The updated information explains proposed changes to the 10-month occupation rule and defines permanent pasture regulations.

Claire Kingston of consultant the Laurence Gould Partnership said this would be particularly useful to farmers.

Land is classified as permanent pasture when it has been in grass or herbaceous forage on six consecutive single payment (or IACS) applications.

This effectively gives claimants one year more than had previously been considered “safe” in terms of retaining permanent pasture status.

However, land which has been down to grass for five years and which is used to support set-aside entitlements in the 2008 claim will still be considered temporary grass in 2008, because the SPS definition of permanent pasture excludes land which is used to support set-aside entitlements.

The EU Commission has proposed that the mandatory 10-month occupation rule be scrapped in favour of farmers holding land at their disposal on a single date.

It is likely that this will take effect from 2008, although claimants should be aware they will be liable for any cross-compliance breaches for the remainder of that claim year.

With set-aside at 0% for this coming year, this means that where set-aside entitlements are used to claim payments the land can be used to grow non permanent crops or may be left fallow.

But cross-compliance legislation will still apply and the land must meet Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC12) rules.

Fruit Vegetable and Potato authorisations, which allowed growers of so-called “negative list” crops to claim the single payment, will be abolished. Growers will keep their entitlements which will have the same status as ordinary entitlements from 2008.

There will also be changes to the Aid for Energy Crops scheme in 2008, including a requirement that where crops are grown for on-farm processing (without a contract), they must be used on the same holding on which they were grown. The information required in declarations for such crops will change in 2008.

DEFRA’s booklet Single Payment Scheme Information for farmers and growers in England, November 2007 update is being sent to all claimants and can be downloaded free.

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