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Greening Start Dates Looming for Scottish Farmers

January kick off for EFA measures and new cross-compliance

Although final details have still to be agreed, Scottish farmers must remember that key greening and cross-compliance deadlines start next month.

For those planning to include buffer strips and field margins as part of their Ecological Focus Areas (EFA) requirements under the new CAP, management restrictions kick in from 1 January and run for a full calendar year.  For those looking to set ground aside as fallow to qualify for EFA, the period starts on 15 January and finishes on 15 July.  

Several questions around greening, particularly with regards to management of fallow, remain unanswered although the start dates are imminent.

Meetings with Scottish Government officials last week have brought some clarity.  It is evident that once arable land is committed to EFA fallow there can be neither production (grazing, cultivation, harvesting and topping) nor maintenance nor establishment of any crop, including grass.  That includes a ban on any drainage works and would also prevent the establishment of grass.  Farmers will not be allowed to change the land cover during the fallow period (15 Jan to 15 July) other than the possible exception of establishing a wildflower or wild bird seed mixture.  Control of injurious weeds is only by spot application and there is a ban on the wider use of pesticides.

It is now also clear that land managed for EFA field margins, buffer strips and fallow is not eligible for payments under the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS).  The Scottish Government is looking to improve its guidance on land in environmental management (LIEM) in the context of greening.

From 1 January, new cross-compliance measures also apply to all farmers.  From that date, rules around keeping land in good agricultural and environmental condition (GAEC) mean that there can be no cultivating or application of pesticides and fertiliser within two metres of a hedge or watercourse.

Although things are still dragging on, NFUS continues to meet with Scottish Government officials to nail down the final detail on greening.

NFU Scotland’s Director of Policy, Jonnie Hall said:
“Finalising greening requirements for Scottish farmers has been a frustrating and protracted process in which both NFUS and Scottish Government have struggled with a lack of clarity from Brussels.  That has hampered the information flow from SGRPID to grass roots farmers but time is now of the essence.

“Scottish Government has committed to revise and update its existing greening guidance but it is disappointing that the information will only be made available online.  Despite our request, it appears that those affected by greening must go online if they want to look at the most up-to-date version of the rules.

“As well as some certainty being provided on management of EFA fallow during the 15 January to 15 July window; the new guidance will also include crop lists for green cover as well as a number of case studies on how farmers may consider meeting their greening requirements.

“The confusion at an EU level has hindered the whole process but after a great deal of pushing, Scottish Government is starting to iron out the rules.  As a consequence guidance, while still to be completed, is far more complete than before.

“All farmers also need to bear in mind that new GAEC rules also kick in from 1 January which mean that there can be no cultivating or application of pesticides or fertiliser within two metres of a hedge or watercourse.  There is an existing GAEC requirement not to damage hedges, and this new rule on no cultivation toughens that.”  

Notes to editors

  • “Agricultural practices beneficial for the climate and the environment”, known as ‘Greening’ are mandatory requirements of the CAP reform coming into force on 1 January 2015.   They require farmers to comply with rules on Permanent Grassland, Crop Diversification and Ecological Focus Areas (EFA).   Thirty percent of the entire budget for direct payments is dedicated to greening.
  • By 1 January, field margins and buffer strips counting towards EFA requirements need to be in place i.e. must be cleared of livestock and no cultivation or agricultural production can then take place for 12 months.
  • On buffer strips, grass can be cut and removed (including for silage or hay).  On field margins, grass may be topped after 31 August, but cuttings cannot be removed.
  • By 15 January, fallow land counting towards EFA requirements must be in place – again cleared of livestock and no cultivation or agricultural production can take place for 6 months.
  • NFU Scotland Lothian and Borders Region is meeting with Scottish Government officials on 18 December to discuss greening measures.  The on-farm event is being hosted by Anne Wright, Pirnie Farm, Kelso, and will look at the practicalities of greening on farm.

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006 or Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 190/14


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