Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Expert Advice on New Greening Measures; FARMING

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Expert Advice on New Greening Measures; FARMING

Article excerpt

Byline: ROBERT GIBSON robert.gibson@ncjmedia.co.uk

North East. experts have oered advice to those aected by Defra's recent announcement on greening measures. Introduced as part of CAP reform, the new rules mean all farmers with more than 15ha of arable land must set aside 5% of it as an Ecological Focus Area (EFA) or risk losing up to 30% of their direct subsidy payments.

is 5% land area can be left fallow, put into buer strips, used to catch or cover crops, used for nitrogen xing crops including the likes of peas and beans, or can be used for hedgerows.

e majority of North East farmers will be breathing a sigh of relief following the longawaited announcement, as most will see payments unaected by the new greening measures, according to Charles Raine of Youngs RPS.

Indeed, the greatest impact will felt by those holding Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) agreements created after January 2012.

"ose with Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements, no matter what date they commenced, will not see their payments adjusted for greening," Raine said.

"Neither will those with ELS agreements made pre-January 2012.

"For the few with ELS agreements who nd themselves caught in the post-January 2012 gap, payments will be reduced where double funding applies, even for those with an organic option.

"ese farmers face two main options. Either they can add further ELS options to their existing agreements where there is con-ict with their greening obligations in order to meet their requirements and thus maintain payments, or the alternative would be to close their ELS agreement early, without penalty, and start again."

One of the main complications, he added, was that not all ELS options are classed as double funding.

"It would seem that the main issues apply to arable land options such as buer strips around water courses, ponds and eld corners, as well as managed woodland edges, wild bird seed and nectar ower mixes and beetle banks," Raine said.

"All of these will be classied as double funding. In addition to this there are also a few exceptions to delivering EFAs leading to exemption. …

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