New CAP Framework Agreed
The framework for a new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from 2015 has been agreed, following two years of negotiations.
The new CAP has the principles of ‘greening’ direct payments and redistributing payments more evenly at its heart. However, it gives member states ‘unprecedented flexibility’ in how they implement elements of the reforms, including what farmers will have to do to qualify for their 30 per cent greening top up and how much money is transferred between the two pillars of the CAP (Single Farm Payment and Rural Development Regulation).
Certain issues, including the question of capping or reducing larger payments, are still outstanding and will be decided separately in negotiations on the Multi-Annual Financial Framework for 2014-2020.
What is clear is that in order to get their full single farm payment, farmers will be required to implement basic greening measures, likely to include maintaining permanent grassland, crop diversification and maintaining an ‘ecological focus area’.
In order to avoid penalising those that already address environmental and sustainability concerns, member states can implement a “greening equivalency” system to replace the basic requirements outlined above.
Elizabeth Ranelagh, FWAG East Advisor and Co-ordinator of The Campaign for the Farmed Environment in the East said:
“It is now up to our Government to decide how to implement reforms to fit national circumstances. My hope is that due credit will be given to our farmers for the high level of engagement in environmental stewardship that already exists here in England.
“It is important we don’t penalise the farmers who are already going the extra mile to care for our countryside. In fact we must support them to increase the environmental value of the measures they take. Equally, we must offer support to the minority of farmers who are not yet engaged and encourage them to do more.”
Funding will still be available for existing agreements which continue beyond 2013 and new agreements signed up for in 2013. Some funding will be available for HLS agreements, for eligible expiring ‘classic’ agreements, for SSSIs and other high priority cases, and to meet Water Framework Directives.
A small amount of funding will be available for new ELS agreements, for underpinning new HLS agreements, for Uplands ELS, for land coming out of classic agreements which does not meet HLS criteria and for Organic ELS.
Catchment Sensitive Farming will still be running a grants programme in 2014/15.
DEFRA have confirmed that, from 2015 onwards, all new agri-environment schemes will have a single start date of 1 January in every year, rather than monthly start dates as at present.