CAP reform update December 2013

CAP reform Q&A - Greening

There are still a few unanswered questions but there are now strong steers on many of them and Defra are expecting to publish another detailed paper by the end of this month.

For other common Q&As regarding the CAP reform, please navigate through the tabs below.


Greening - crop diversification - crops

1. Is fallow a crop?

Yes. See 27 for some ELS options counting as fallow.

2. What period has to be fallow?

To count as Ecological Focus Area the period is 1 January until 30 June. As far as crop diversification is concerned the land must be fallow from 1 May to 30 June.

3. If 15 May is critical how will crops such as vining peas and maize, which may be planted after this date, be treated?

We don’t know but Defra has indicated that it will introduce arrangements to ensure that these crops will be included. For many the distinction will only matter where a vining pea crop is to be counted as part of the EFA.

4. Can fallow and protein crops be counted both as part of the EFA and as a third crop?

Yes. In fact either could also be the principal or second crop.

5. If protein crops are encouraged as a result of greening won’t the price fall?

In fact, some countries may retain a pulse premium as well further encouraging production. However, while the premium for human consumption will probably disappear the underlying value as animal feed probably won’t. The EU is the second biggest importer of soyabean/soyameal after China and there is considerable scope for substitution. In addition the value of vegetable protein appears to be rising more quickly than the value of vegetable oil.

6. Can I count crops such as apple orchards or strawberries as a crop for the purpose of crop diversification?

Crops that are in the ground for five or more years are considered permanent crops and do not constitute an additional crop as far as crop diversification is concerned or give rise to the 5% EFA area. However, strawberries are not in the ground for five years and are considered an arable crop as far as crop diversification and give rise to an EFA requirement.

7. Potatoes are grown on my land on a licence. Can this be one of my crops?

Crops grown on a licence would usually be counted as the land supplier’s crop and can therefore be included on your application. However, not all authorities accept licences as being legally valid so advice is needed on each occasion. In general, it is important that the land supplier can demonstrate some input into the land during the year and the licence is not just a tenancy by another name. The rules on licences do not change in this reform.

8. I am a vegetable grower and completely confused by the definition of what counts as different brassica crops. Can you explain?

The Commission generally accepts different genera as separate crops (e.g. wheat, barley, sunflowers etc.). The Commission also accepts winter and spring varieties within a genus as separate crops. However, for brassicaceae, solanaceae (potatoes, aubergines and tomatoes) cucurbitaceae (cucumbers and squashes) they allow the sub classification of species to be counted as separate crops. While this would appear simple, a lot of distinct brassicas are actually the same species. There are three major brassica species grown as crops: Brassica oleracea (broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbages, kale and so on); Brassica napus (oilseed rape and swede) and; Brassica rapa (Bok choi, turnips, turnip rape). There are at least another 13 species of brassicaceae in the UK. The result is that Brussel sprouts and broccoli are the same crop but kale and oilseed rape are different crops. If in doubt telephone.

9. What are outdoor pigs classified as?

Outdoor pigs will count as temporary grass.

Greening - crop diversification - grass

10. Is temporary grass a crop?

Yes. Provided it is under five years and is not grass re-sown to grass without a break or catch crop.

11. I have always coded all my grass as temporary grass. Does that mean that this will be treated as cropped area?

Not necessarily. Defra will automatically recode temporary grass as permanent grass in the sixth year (i.e. grass shown as TG1 in 2010 will be shown as permanent grass in 2015).

12. If I have recorded my grass as temporary grass since 2010 will it count as a crop and will it mean that my EFA needs to take this area into account?

Usually not. The RPA will recode as permanent grass in 2015. It will be possible to change the classification but only if the grass was re-established in this period and there was a catch crop prior to re-establishment of the grass (see 11).

Greening - ecological focus area

13. What is the width of EFA buffer strips?

Defra has adopted a minimum buffer width of 1 metre. This means that the cross compliance strip will qualify as EFA. Any margin that is wider than needed to fulfil the buffer strip requirement is likely to be counted as fallow providing it is at least 2 metres.

14. Will the EFA weighting change if the buffer strip width changes?

According to Defra not in England but looks likely to vary in Scotland.

15. Does the buffer strip have to be adjacent to a watercourse?


16. Can buffer strips on grass contribute to the EFA?

Yes. If it is temporary grass and therefore considered as an arable crop.

17. What is a watercourse?

We don't know but assume the definition is the same as for the most recent ELS.

18. When do I need to plant my catch crop to qualify for the 2015 EFA?

In the autumn of 2015 (NOT AUTUMN 2014). This is logical because there are more months when in the ground prior to 1st January than afterwards. Defra has now made a distinction between catch crops and cover crops. Catch crops must be planted before 31 August and in the ground on 1 October while cover crops will need to be established prior to 1 October and retained until 15 January. Except where grass was undersown in the previous crop species planted should not usually include those usually grazed and consist of two different cover types. There are no restrictions outside that period.

19. When does the catch crop have to be planted and harvested?

Defra is yet to decide but the legislation gives 1 October as the latest planting date and the expectation is that Defra will accept this. Stakeholders are pushing for an end date of the middle of January and it is not expected that Defra would object.

20. The Defra leaflet suggests that the inclusion of hedgerows may delay payment. Is this true?

Maybe. Hedgerows are counted as a permanent feature and need to be mapped from the outset while other features may not need to be mapped until later years. The new RPA RLR system, which is already available to selected users and is being rolled out to others, overlays the RLR map onto Ordnance Survey maps and aerial photographs. It should allow hedgerows to be easily overlaid over the image and measured for transfer into the RPA system. However, if hedges are to be used as part of the EFA they should be added as soon as the system is running to reduce risk of delay.

Greening - penalty

21. Is Greening compulsory?

The EU legislation states claimants "shall" implement greening implying that it is compulsory (cross compliance is described similarly in the current regime). However, the penalty is a maximum loss of 50% of the greening payment on the arable area for failure to meet either crop diversification or EFA (and 100% for failures to achieve both). Defra confirm that this is its current understanding and has promised to describe the penalty in detail prior to application. RPA/Defra are worried that if there is widespread disregard the EU will introduce more penalties. This is unlikely in the first year and the current legislation details the impact of failure to meet requirements for subsequent years - which is modest. Non-compliance will probably increase the number of inspections.

22. I have been told that failure to comply risks penalty under the ‘artificiality clause’. What is that?

The artificiality clause is the catch-all where conditions are created solely in order to receive subsidy payment and results in the total loss of payment. Under-supplying EFA area or having an incorrect balance of crops would reduce, rather than enhance, payment so would not be subject to penalty under this clause. However, creation of tenancies to ensure that a holding had the right balance of crop or included sufficient EFA features might be construed as artificial. Improperly executed licences used in place of tenancies might also run the risk of exclusion since the claimant would not be in occupation.

23. You say the penalty is up to 50% of the greening payment. Does it vary?

Yes. It is complicated but as a rule of thumb better to ensure that the third (fourth, fifth, etc) crop is more than 5%. The full detail is available.

Greening - relationship with stewardship

24. I have an ELS will this qualify for the EFA?

Yes. Many options count as fallow such as field margins, field corners, pollen and nectar, and wild bird seed. Buffer strips against water courses will count as EFA buffer strips. Hedges can be counted in both schemes.

25. Won't this lead to double funding that is not allowed?

Not necessarily. ELS schemes starting prior to 1 January 2012 and all HLS schemes are not affected by the rules on double funding. ELS starting after this will have their ELS payments reduced but growers may leave the scheme, accept a lower payment or top up.

26. I don't need the ELS options to meet my EFA objectives do I still lose ELS payment?

Yes, if the stewardship scheme started after 1 January 2012 and is not part of an HLS scheme.

27. Are the greening requirements the same in Scotland and Wales?

No. There is overlap but they have chosen different EFA options.

28. My landlord has a ELS covering the entire estate including my land. Will I be able to use these options to fulfil my EFA?

You will be able to make use of the options since they form part of the area in your subsidy claim. It is possible that dual use may cease to be allowed in future.


Key contacts

Andrew Wraith

Andrew Wraith

Food & Farming

Savills Lincoln

+44 (0) 1522 508 973

+44 (0) 1522 508 973