Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Set-Aside Returns by the Back Door?

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Set-Aside Returns by the Back Door?

Article excerpt

Byline: LOUIS FELL

THE European Commission's draft proposals for the future of the Common Agricultural Policy have drawn fire from farmers, environmnentalists and government.

Farm businesses need to be in a position to mitigate against any loss of subsidy income and also take advantage of any opportunities it may present.

These proposals are yet to be debated in the European Parliament before MEPs vote on which proposals are adopted and become legislation. However, the good news is that the subsidy support system will remain for all farmers, but will be in an amended format.

Subsidies will be based on a single uniform area payment based system which will need to be adopted throughout the UK by 2019. This may result in Scottish and Welsh farmers going through a similar historic to area based transitional period as their English counterparts.

The basic payment scheme will be paid to farmers subject to cross compliance and GAEC conditions. In addition a "greening element" may be payable if you comply with additional environmental conditions.

To do this you will need to have a minimum of three different crop types per year and/or maintain a certain level of permanent pasture and/or have a minimum of 7% of land devoted to ecological management, in order to claim this "greening element". Is this a return of set-aside, perhaps through the back door? The Greening Payment can be made up of 30% of the funds available within the national envelope of each member state and will be payable on a per hectare basis.

What is not clear is how governments across Europe will each interpret the detail, and what variances will emerge as there is scope for member states to offer additional payments and coupled options up to certain limits. We will be looking closely at all aspects of these reforms to assess how best to help and to inform farmers of the changes that may or may not affect them. While some elements of the reform are compulsory, some flexibility is afforded to individual member states. …

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