Be prepared for challenges ahead

First published in Farming

FARMERS need to be aware of the challenges they face in the future. That’s the message of the first Tynedale Farming Seminar to be held in November.

The event entitled Does The CAP Fit? takes place at Tynedale Rugby Football Club, Corbridge, on Wednesday, November 7, at 6.45pm.

The past year has seen many reforms in the farming sector, and recent single payment scheme (SPS) changes will affect farming incomes, whether arable, livestock, or mixed farms.

The seminar, aimed at farmers in the Tynedale area, will detail changes made to EU and UK policies and shed light on how farmers are best placed to deal with them.

Issues covered will include subsidy payments, greening, the younger generation, succession planning, and changes to planning legislation. Some of the questions it will address include: What will my payment be?

This year, for the first time, all English farmers will receive payments based solely on an area basis. It is estimated that the payments will be based on normal entitlements of 324.10 euros/ha; 260 euros/ha for SDA; and 45 euros/ha for moorland, to be confirmed by the RPA.

The rate of modulation is also set at 19 per cent for farmers in the 2012 payment window receiving more than 5,000 euros. This will result in payments for normal entitlements being about £209.50/ha; SDA £168.33/ha; and moorland £29.22/ha.

Compared to the payments received last year at the exchange rate of one euro to £0.866, this represents a drop of about eight per cent or £18.01 on normal entitlements, £14.46 on SDA entitlements and £2.51 on moorland entitlements.

What does the future hold for farm subsidy support and at what stage is the Common Agricultural Policy reform?

Following the release of the draft proposals in October 2011, a number of steps have been taken and it seems certain that the European Commission will struggle to deliver a signed policy by the end of 2013.

Some 7,000 objections have been lodged across Europe in response to the draft proposals.

The European farming budget is be put in place before the end of the year, which will decide the size of the pot during the next CAP period to 2020.

It seems likely that the current two-pillar subsidy system will remain, but a raft of changes are due to be implemented to ensure uniformity across Europe.

While the proposals have been widely criticised, both at home and abroad, it seems that the next CAP policy will be greener and more focused than before.

That said, opportunities will exist for farmers to be in a position to maximise the subsidy received, while ensuring minimal impact on farm profitability and performance.

Will the UK Agri environment schemes still exist?

The Government has made it clear that it would like to push more funding into pillar two and towards environmental measures.

Until it is confirmed that UK agri-environment measures, such as ELS and HLS, will qualify in place of the proposed pillar one greening requirement, it is of concern that UK farmers will have to deliver twice to secure their full payment.

In the short term, changes are afoot to both ELS and HLS schemes, which will make entry more stringent and require additional thought in the design stage to ensure the required points are secured.

What are the incentives for the younger generation?

Under the current proposals, a young farmer incentive has been drafted which aims to encourage the next generation into the industry. With the average age of farmers now approaching 60, this is one of the more welcome proposals on the table.

What do I need to think about in terms of succession planning?

The proposals are attempting to ensure that only active farmers receive subsidy support. Farmer businesses need to have claimed one hectare of eligible land in 2011 to enable them to hold the golden ticket for future subsidy payments under the new regime.

What are the changes to the planning regime?

The Government has announced major reforms to the planning regime, the most important of which is the National Planning Policy Framework, which has replaced more than 1,000 pages of planning guidance used by authorities.

Recent announcements have increased the range of work that can be done without submitting a planning application and removed guidance on how agricultural workers’ dwellings are assessed.

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