4:40pm Friday 11th October 2013
A CUT of ten to 15 per cent in farm support for England and the introduction of a scheme even more complicated than the Single Farm Payment (SFP) were two of the predictions made by experts at an Andersons farm business conference in York.
It was generally accepted that farm support would continue for at least the next decade and this news would come as relief for many producers, said Andersons’ partner, Richard King.
“Some farm businesses would only just break even if direct support payments were removed, so continued funding is essential,”
“These payments also protect businesses from volatility in the market place. But the overall budget is set to decline, so farmers must do everything they can to ensure that their enterprises are being run efficiently and secure a market for their produce.”
The new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) would be similar to the SFP in many ways, he explained.
“Defra was keen to have a roll-over of entitlements for England, so it is probable that one SFP entitlement, held on December 31, 2014, will be converted into one BPS entitlement on January 1, 2015.
“Producers who hold more entitlements than can be matched to eligible hectares may have to forgo the excess entitlements.
Funding for the BPS will be ongoing until 2019, although the Common Agricultural Policy will be subject to a midterm review in 2018.”
While no significant changes to cross-compliance rules were anticipated, a new layer of ‘greening’ will be introduced, representing 30 per cent of a producer’s total BPS support payment. It would be split into three sections – crop diversification, the protection of permanent pasture and Ecological Focus Areas.
Environmental schemes would undergo a radical shake-up, he warned.
“It is generally perceived by Defra decisionmakers that the Entry Level Scheme, for example, is not giving taxpayers good value for money. Existing agreements will be honoured, but they will be replaced by the New Environmental Land Management Scheme. It will open for applications in 2015, with a start date of January 1, 2016.”
Other revisions to the current farm support system in England included the re-introduction of cropping codes and the requirement for BPS applications to be made online only, he added. Capital grants would continue to be offered, but not on the scale seen in previous years, with funding for training and advice likely to take priority.
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