This week’s Common Agricultural Policy reform announcements begin to fill in some of the detail around the steps English farmers will have to take to meet the new EU-wide greening requirements from 2015. Details of the new requirements were made available ahead of the Cereals Show 2014 this week and aroused much interest from visitors.
The new rules have their greatest impact on arable farmers, as set out in the Greening Update published on 9 June. The crop diversification rules mean that those with 10 to 30 hectares of arable land will have to grow at least 2 crops, and those with more than 30 hectares will be required to grow at least three different crops, unless they meet one of the exemptions. For many farmers this will not require any change to their current business models. For some it will require diversification and these farmers will need to consider their cropping plans and make the necessary changes in order to be compliant with the new rules. The impacts could also fall on farming sectors such as specialist growers, block croppers, contract farmers and those livestock farmers who grow 30 hectares or more of fodder crops.
Farmers with more than 15 hectares of arable land will also have to manage an area equivalent to 5% of their arable land as an Ecological Focus Area, with options of catch and cover crops, fallow land, buffer strips or growing a Nitrogen-Fixing Crop counting as Ecological Focus Areas. They will also be able to count their hedgerows towards the Ecological Focus Area requirement. Farmers need now to consider how they will meet this requirement. Where their current farming practice does not have an area equivalent to 5% of their arable land in one of the land-uses listed, then action will need to be taken to increase the land under one or more of the options to 5%, unless they meet one of the exemptions to the rules.
See the Greening Update for more information.