CAP snippets February 2014

CAP snippets

Yet again, it looks as though last minute decisions by the EU and Defra will leave little time to plan cropping this autumn. The crop diversification requirement is now clear but the Ecological Focus Area is still subject to negotiation. The approximate timetable is now available, some new decisions have been made and the likely shape of the outstanding elements is clearer.

 

What next?

We are expecting publication of the “final draft” of thdelegated or implementing acts in the second week of March. These regulations add detail to the top-level regulations published in December. 

Once published, the drafts go to the two democratically elected bodies; the Council (national governments) and MEPs to modify and eventually approve. They have two months to agree, although an extension of the decision process by another two months is possible. Once agreed it will be possible for Defra and the other UK administrations to confirm which options will be available to farmers.

This means  the earliest date we are likely to have all the details is towards the end of May, but  since the Commission has had to canvas the opinion of the elected bodies before presenting the drafts it would be hoped that only the detail will change – time will tell.

Ecological focus area (EFA)

The majority of arable farms will need to allocate the equivalent of 5% of their arable area (potentially increasing to 7% following review in March 2017) to environmental management in order to qualify for the greening payment (£60-70 per hectare) outside of the moorland areas in England – and potentially similar in Wales and Scotland). There are a few exceptions but these will be rare.

The Scottish Government has published draft options for the EFA habitat. A leaked draft expands on the detail behind the options. Not all habitats are considered equal so different weightings have been applied. Several of the features are defined by metre length so a second conversion factor is needed to convert to an EFA area so  one metre of hedge is calculated to be the equivalent of three square metres of habitat and is given a weighting value of 1.5. Thus one metre of hedge corresponds to 4.5 square metres of EFA area.

The weightings are known to be in flux and consequently are likely to change from the list below but this does provide a flavour of what to expect. 

EFA habitats and areas

Click on the table to expand 

The second issue is the relationship of EFAs with the Environmental Stewardship schemes. No information is available yet from Defra but Entry Level Stewardship payments are for the management of hedgerows and ditches and not their existence, so arguably there is no overlap between these options. Payments for new schemes are likely to be substantially higher than now.

2014 single payment scheme application

The online 2014 application is now open. This looks likely to be the last year when paper applications will be accepted. If you have not used the online system before, it is worth experimenting with it while a paper application is still a fall back. 2014 payments will be subject to the pillar transfer (12%) and not modulation (voluntary modulation is 9% for most claimants). Financial discipline may be applied again.

Entitlement transfers

In 2015, any claimant with entitlements in excess of land area will lose the additional entitlements. Claimants with less than 5 hectares are not expected to lose the entitlements until they have been unused for two years but they will not be able to activate them.

The entitlement transfer window has been confirmed by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) for England. After this year’s claim, for legal and technical reasons, there will be a closed period for transfer from midnight 19 October to mid-January. Under the new regime, entitlements can only be made to, or transferred to, active farmers. 

In Wales and probably Scotland, entitlements will not be rolled forward. The historic element is based on the 2014 claim so transfers after this year, even if acceptable, would not appear to provide any benefit.

 

Key contacts

Andrew Wraith

Andrew Wraith

Director
Food & Farming

Savills Lincoln

+44 (0) 1522 508 973

+44 (0) 1522 508 973