FARMERS attended a meeting led by Anne McIntosh and the Rural Payments Agency about changes to the way they will receive payments from the European Union.

Richard Anderson, an inspections advisor from Rural Payments Agency, told the meeting at Thirsk Auction Mart yesterday (Thursday, February 20) about the EU plans for Common Agriculture Payments to replace the Single Payment Scheme.

He said the new system would be very similar to the old one and that the basic payment scheme would roll over in to 2014.

Taking the place of single payment entitlements, the scheme will be made up of two payments; a basic payment per hectare equating to 70 per cent of the total payment and a “greening payment” comprising the remaining 30 per cent.

In order to receive the payment the applicant must meet the definition of an active farmer – which is that the farmer grows crops or keeps livestock, and is not defined on how much income is generated by the farm.

Mr Anderson said: “If a farmer grows crops or livestock they should have nothing to worry about because they are demonstrating they are active.

“This is good news for tenant farmers who have been in the situation where a landlord has been taking payments.”

The main difference in the new system is the greening payments.

Mr Anderson said: “There is a requirement to maintain permanent pasture – defined as back to back grass for five years; maintaining an ‘ecological focus area’ such as hedgerows and buffers strips; and a requirement to have more than one type of crop if a farm has more than 30 hectares of arable land.”

Ms McIntosh, MP for Thirsk and Malton, told the meeting she had received confirmation from DEFRA that farmers can still apply on paper rather than online even though DEFRA is working towards digitalisation.