Farmers in Scotland have finally been told how they can comply with greening measures to receive their full support payment under the new CAP.
Ministers had until midnight on Friday (31 July) to notify the EU about how the Scottish government planned to make direct payments to farmers from 2015.
While Rural Affairs secretary Richard Lochhead had set out part of his plans in June, farmers had been left waiting on the detail of how the greening element of the CAP would be implemented.
Livestock producers were also awaiting confirmation on how much coupled support they would receive via the country’s voluntary beef and sheep schemes. Under the greening regulations, the Scottish government agreed that farmers with more than 15ha of arable land must put 5% of their land into an ecological focus area (EFA).
In plans announced on Friday, ministers agreed that fallow, catch crops and nitrogen-fixing crops would be classified as an EFA. Field margins and buffer strips would also apply.
The EFA rules mean that for a 1,000ha arable farm, a farmer could choose to have:
- 50ha fallow; or
- 33.3ha field margin; or
- 33.3ha buffers strip; or
- 167ha of catch crop; or
- 71ha of nitrogen fixing crops; or
- a combination of these that together met the 5% EFA requirement.
With regards to voluntary coupled support, the government decided to couple just over 10% of its total direct support package out of a potential 13%.
This means that 8% is going to its beef scheme, with specialist beef producers on the mainland will be able to claim about €100 a calf.
Island beef producers will be eligible to claim for about €160 a calf.
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Under the sheep scheme, 2.1% of support is being coupled, meaning that sheep producers in the countries most fragile areas will be eligible for additional payments of around €100/ewe hogg – about €25 a ewe.
Mr Lochhead said the coupled support schemes were essential in helping Scotland’s active farmers.
Having the flexibility to allow a higher rate of coupled support gave the government the ability to target support in a better way.
Decisions over the EFA options also needed to achieve a balance between food production and meeting the country’s environmental obligations, he added.
“That is why I have taken the decision to apply a weighting factor of 1.5 to field margins and buffer strips along watercourses, which are generally the lowest productive areas of arable land and the most valuable for the environment.
“Scotland’s arable area is not generally given over to monoculture and therefore our environmental goals are also reliant on maintaining the mosaic of vegetation that currently exists across much of Scotland.”
Mr Lochhead said he realised it was important farmers and crofters in Scotland knew “sooner rather that later” about changes to their CAP payments.
“I will shortly be writing to producers with more detail about the new rules,” he added.
EFAs can comprise:
- Land lying fallow (mandatory weighting factor of 1 applies)
- Catch crops (mandatory weighting factor of 0.3 applies)
- Nitrogen fixing crops (mandatory weighting factor of 0.7 applies)
- Field margins and buffer strips along watercourses, for which a decision has been taken to apply a weighting factor of 1.5
- Specialist beef producers on the mainland will be able to claim around €100 a calf
- Island beef producers will be eligible for higher payments worth around €160 a calf.
- Sheep producers in Scotland’s most fragile areas will be eligible for additional payments of around €100/ewe hogg – about €25 a ewe.