Sunday, November 19, 2017

Beware of double funding trap when planning crops

June 30, 2017 by  
Filed under News & Business

BeesnSeeds mix

Farmers should carefully about how best to meet their 2018 Ecological Focus Area (EFA) requirements after the European Parliament voted in favour of a ban on the use of pesticides on a number of EFA options.

The vote means the European Commission’s proposals to ban the use of pesticides on nitrogen-fixing crops, fallow, cover and catch crops can now come into force. But it is unclear how the rules will be implemented and the timetable for their introduction.

Strutt & Parker farm consultant Ed Hutley said: “People looking at next year’s cropping plans will need to know if adjustments are necessary to ensure they can meet their 5% EFA requirement when it comes to completing their 2018 Basic Payment Scheme application.”

Questionable

“The majority of our clients use peas or beans to meet their EFA requirements, but without pesticides their viability as break crop will be questionable. This means farmers will instead look to maximise any other fallow, buffer strips and hedges to use as EFA.”

It was vital farmers were given clarity on how the rules will be implemented, said Mr Hutley. Farmers with countryside stewardship scheme agreements faced the added complication of double funding rules, which prevent farmers from being paid twice for the same activity, he said.

“Farmers with Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) agreements preceding January 2012 were able to use relevant options in their ELS agreements to count towards their greening obligations without any changes to payments.

Slashed

“However, these five year agreements have now all come to an end and anyone in the new countryside stewardship scheme will be affected by the double-funding rules – which means that if stewardship scheme options are used for EFA then the stewardship payment is slashed.

“Anyone in, or currently considering, a countryside stewardship scheme agreement needs to consider how much hedge and buffer strips the farm has and be prepared to either fallow more areas for EFA or grow catch/cover crops.”

Mr Hutley said this was not a reason to avoid stewardship, but it did need consideration. “The answer may well be a catch crop from August to 1 October prior to late sown wheat or winter beans,” he added.

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