Five-year set-aside scheme unveiled

7 September 2000

Five-year set-aside scheme unveiled

By FWi staff

A NEW guaranteed five-year set-aside scheme has been announced by the government.

Under this scheme — known as multiannual set-aside — farmers are guaranteed that the payment in Euros will not be lower than the rate in the first year.

This mirrors the old five-year guaranteed set-aside scheme which was closed to most farmers in 1996, and closed completely in 1999.

Under multiannual set-aside if there is an increase in the basic amount of the payment rate for set-aside, or applicable regional rates, farmers will receive the higher rate.

However, exchange rate fluctuations mean the amount farmers receive in Pounds sterling could decrease in that period.

Under the multiannual scheme:

  • farmers who set aside 100% of their land (for example, for energy crops) can do so for five-year periods;

  • farmers will be able to set aside up to 50% of the land they claim for five years, subject to environmental conditions or to an agreed environmental management plan;

  • exceptionally, tenant farmers who have less than five years remaining of a farm business tenancy, will be able to enter a three-year agreement.

    Farmers will also be able to submit their own set-aside management plans, drawn up with an environmental organisation.

    Extra protection is given to farmland birds, as cutting is not allowed before August 1, except in the first year.

    And the Ministry of Agriculture says it will explore the option of 100% set-aside for environmental reasons with farming organisations.

    Junior farm minister Joyce Quin said: The opportunity to set aside the same land for five years at a guaranteed minimum payment rate will enable farmers to plan ahead with a degree of certainty.

    In a separate development, MAFF has reviewed the use of set-aside strips alongside watercourses which need only be 10m wide, instead of the usual 20m.

    In future, the ministry says it will be prepared to accept these even where there is a fence or other narrow feature between the set-aside and watercourse.

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