CAP: Unanswered questions holding up decisions - Agrii - Connecting Agri-science with farming

Beth Metson Blog

May 8, 2014

CAP: Unanswered questions holding up decisions

Planning for the next cropping year to comply with CAP is currently (May 2014) for many impossible due to the unanswered questions around ‘Greening’.  Discussed below are some key questions which should have been answered some time ago to allow for compliance to be achieved effectively and efficiently.

1. Will autumn 2014 drilling need to be compliant with the crop diversification rules?

CAP and particularly greening remains uncertain and comes into force part way through a cropping year where autumn drilling applies.  Is it therefore acceptable to ask farm businesses to adjust regimes for harvest 2015 especially when poignant questions remain unanswered?  Uncertainty around what is to come and how much is needed from claimants is frustrating.  Well organised and structured farm businesses would now be looking at planning for the next season and this process is being hindered.

2. Will crop diversification be based on Single Business Identifier or Holding number?

The requirement to grow three crops on arable areas of over 30 hectares will not affect the vast majority but there will be a small percentage that will be greatly affected.  Holdings just reaching the 30ha threshold or areas contract farmed and then often block cropped are likely to be a category of farm businesses that will suffer.  Adding in crops will have impacts on storage and efficiencies. There will be increased journeys for farm equipment if land parcels have to move from growing one single crop in one year for ease of management to growing 2 or 3. This increase in fuel and hours will alone reduce efficiencies and sustainability.

This situation would be greatly improved if the crop diversification rules are implemented and policed through Single Business Identifiers rather than Holding numbers.  This would allow the flexibility to claim several holding numbers under one business and then spread the 3 crop requirement over several holdings.

3. What are the management prescriptions for each Ecological Focus Area (EFA)?

A list of options that will qualify as an EFA has been discussed but their worth not yet confirmed.  Therefore ensuring you have an equivalent of 5% of your arable area ‘ecologically focussed’ is impossible.  If there is a shortfall in making your 5%, a decision needs to be made on what is the most viable way to reach this figure.  Legumes and cover crops are potential options – but are they viable?  How can they be managed?  What are the restrictions?  Without knowing the detail, plans cannot be made to implement EFAs ready for January.

4.Will farmers already in stewardship schemes be allowed to do less for the EFA requirement for the duration of their agreement?

There will be a matrix of weightings given to each EFA based on their individual ecological benefit.  This will dictate what each option is worth when adding up your features to ensure your 5% EFA is reached.  For those in stewardship schemes, double funding is an issue and could make it difficult to squeeze another 5% out of your arable land for environmental benefit.  Will there be a second matrix designed for those in stewardship agreements giving higher value weightings to EFA options compared to the matrix used by those not committed to stewardship schemes. 

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