With the promise of another DEFRA publication later this month with further information on the reform, Tom Gee discusses the latest news on the CAP Reform.
Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) and Environmental Stewardship
Since the last edition of Rural News we have had a key announcement regarding the relationship between the Greening regulations and existing Environmental Stewardship Schemes. Whilst it had been implied before, it has now been confirmed by DEFRA in writing that options under a Stewardship Scheme can also be used to fulfil EFA requirements. For example, land down to EF1 (field corner management) under an ELS agreement could also be counted as fallow land for Greening purposes. It is vital to bear in mind however, that in this circumstance claimants must comply with the regulations for both schemes.
Post January 2012 ELS Agreements
Those with ELS agreements beginning on 1st January 2012 or after are now receiving letters informing them of their revised payment level and re-iterating the available courses of action. Holders of these agreements can choose to accept their reduced payment, amend their agreement to make up the shortfall of points with options which are not counted as double funding, or end their agreement early with no penalty. It should be noted that agreements which are to be terminated will still be active until the end of 2014. Claimants must respond by 15th November 2014. Those who wish to amend their agreements must inform Natural England of how they intend to do this by 20th December 2014.
Dual Use agreements to continue
DEFRA has confirmed that dual use agreements will continue to be allowable for 2015. This will be a relief to landlords who operate an Environmental Stewardship agreement over land which is let out on an FBT with the tenant claiming the Single Payment, or Basic Payment as it will become. Agreement holders in this situation will however still be subject to the payment reduction of dual funded options if their agreement began on or after 1st January 2012, despite the fact that they have no requirement to create EFAs.
We are promised another DEFRA publication later this month with further information on the reform. It is expected that there will be further practical detail on the five EFA options as well as the Young Farmer Scheme and the regulations defining the status of an ‘active farmer’.
One of the aspects of the new scheme which we expect be explained in detail is the registration process. Whilst very little has been confirmed about the requirements for registration in writing by DEFRA, there have been suggestions at DEFRA led workshops of a fairly long-winded and bureaucratic process. We are hoping that the various industry bodies with whom DEFRA consult such as the NFU, CLA, TFA, etc. are campaigning for a practical and manageable process.
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