ENVIRONMENT Secretary Elizabeth Truss has announced further details of what the new CAP greening rules will mean for English farmers.
And she called on the EU to provide urgent clarity on outstanding issues and to review the three crop rule.
Ms Truss wants the new guidance to be as simple and flexible as possible to allow English farmers to compete nationally and internationally and not be adversely affected.
The three crops can be grown over the course of a year.
To minimise disruption, a two-month inspection window of May to June has been set for the five per cent of farms that will be inspected. Defra said this should cover the vast majority of crops in England.
If crops have been harvested before June 30, stubble will count as evidence that a crop has been grown. Defra wants more evidence – such as physical signs or organic matter in the soil, or photographs and records – to also be accepted.
Ministers will work with industry to explore exceptions for late-sown crops or crops with very short growing periods.
Further details on hedge requirements have also been announced, with Defra pressing the EU for final details.
Details of the successor to the environmental stewardship scheme will be announced in the autumn. The scheme will start in 2016.
Ms Truss said: “I want farmers and growers to be able to play their part in boosting exports, increasing self-sufficiency and ensuring that as many people as possible, from patients in hospital to hardpressed families, can enjoy fresh, local and tasty food.
“I will champion the interests of our farmers so they can continue to concentrate on what they do best producing topquality, world-class food.”
Under the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), greening will account for around 30 per cent of claimants’ direct payments.
Defra’s latest leaflet provides updates on the new cross-compliance measures and online payment system, and encourages farmers to consider opportunities to attract bees and pollinators to their land as part of the new CAP rules – a key priority for the government.
Meurig Raymond, NFU president, said that while the latest guidance gave some muchneeded information, he was disappointed some areas still lacked detail.
He said: “I am hugely frustrated that we still don’t have practical clarity over how all hedges, which are part of ecological focus areas, are measured.
This means farmers still have a challenge in knowing exactly what the rules are if they wish to use this EFA feature which they have on farm.”
A lack of timely guidance from the European Commission was significantly hindering Defra’s ability to implement a full set of scheme rules.
“I would urge the commission to put this right so that farmers have the clarity and guidance to make necessary, practical business decisions,” said Mr Raymond.
The NFU will hold a second series of roadshows this autumn to give further guidance to its members.