CAP reform update June 2014
The Soil Association is working hard to ensure that maintenance payments are as high as possible to support organic farmers across the UK. UK organic farms currently receive the lowest payments per hectare of certified organic land across the EU.
We welcome the news that the Welsh Government has agreed higher payment rates for organic production than in the previous round of CAP. We hope that the Scottish and English administrations will follow suit and bring their rates, which are currently the lowest in the EU in line with the rest of Europe.
Key elements common to all regions of the UK
Pillar One payments will be based on a new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). Cross compliance and Greening measures must be undertaken to qualify for the new BPS direct support payments.
Certified organic farmers will be exempt from Greening requirements (which represent 30% of total basic payments) because of the recognition of the significant environmental benefits that organic farming provides. Non organic farmers have to comply with a range of different requirements including crop rotation on farms producing arable crops and the inclusion of Environmental Focus Areas (EFAs) on most farms. Organic farmers do not have to undertake these measures.
5 hectare minimum claim
A new agri-environment scheme is being introduced called the New Environmental Land Management Scheme (NELMS) which will be targeted to particular geographical areas. In common with past schemes there will be a menu of options for producers to apply for support under. Not all farmers will be eligible to apply.
The NELMS targeting framework is currently being developed together with payment rates for options. A number of organic conversion and maintenance options have been developed.
Discussion is still ongoing on the level of conversion and maintenance payments for organic farmers. We are discussing the issue of the rates of conversion and maintenance payments in England with Defra, working with OF&G and OMSCO, and while greater progress has been made in Wales and Scotland, we are encouraged that in England Defra are willing to listen to the points we are making. These include the importance of getting the balance between conversion and maintenance payments right (we are arguing against high conversion payments – ideally we feel they need to be close to the level of maintenance payments), and for fair levels of maintenance payments, compared to the payments proposed for non-organic farmers under the NELMS system, and compared to payment rates for organic maintenance in many other EU countries.
Young farmers will receive a top up that is broadly equivalent to 25% of the value of BPS paid on a maximum of 90 entitlements, for each of the first five years of the operation of their business
A universal small scale grant scheme will be available for capital works such as hedge laying and stone wall restoration with a likely maximum grant level of £5,000.
Remember you still have until the end of July 2014 to renew your OELS or enter new land into OELS which will run for a 5 year period
5 hectare minimum claim
Move to flat rate payment for BPS rather than split into regions such SDA, DA, lowland and moorland. Entitlements for BPS will be based on SFP ones already held in 2014.
Entitlements above and below the regional average will be increased/decreased in annual steps to bring them in line to the average. Gradual transition over 10 years to an overall flat rate support.
Establish a national/regional reserve of entitlements for new entrants and young farmers.
Adopt standard greening measures as only 6% of land arable in NI.
Payment for young farmers (under 40) as a top up to the BPS – an extra 25% based on own entitlements. Upper limit of 90 hectares and require a level 3 qualification in agriculture.
Extra support to Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) made under pillar 1 for the additional costs associated with farming in such areas.
Setting up a Small Farmers’ Scheme subject to an upper payment of between 500 and 1,250 Euros and exemption from cross compliance and greening measures
Introducing a 150,000 Euro cap on all BPS payments.
Agri Environment Support
Uptake of organic support has been limited in recent years and hence DARD does not propose to include a support scheme for organic conversion from 2016, but will continue to provide technical and supply chain advice through advisors.
Basic payments will become paid on an area basis rather than an historic basis, and are likely to be split into two payment regions based on land type (Region 1 = arable (including temporary grass) and permanent grass and Region 2 = rough grazing). Several options have been suggested for the transition period from historic to area based payments, ranging from an immediate change to a slower transition over 4 years (internal convergence).
Payments rates for organic conversion/maintenance are yet to be finalised.
Agri-environment, climate, organic and forestry support schemes are all separate in Scotland with many options for farmers to choose from.
The minimum land area to be eligible for all pillar 1 and 2 support is likely to be 3 hectares.
Glastir Organic has been confirmed as a stand-alone scheme from the other Glastir agri-environment options. Glastir organic participants will still qualify for the other Glastir options otherwise restricted only to Glastir entry level agreement holders.
The Welsh Government has announced the new payment rates (subject to EU approval) for ‘Glastir Organic’ as follows:
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