Greening payments to end in England next year

Defra has confirmed that greening requirements will be dropped in England next year, as the agricultural transition commences, including the move towards the newEnvironmental Land Management scheme. 
The end of greening payments will not affect the overall payment received by each farmer as the money will instead be added to farmers’ entitlements under the simplified Basic Payment Scheme.
The European Commission’s so-called greening requirements for direct payments have required farmers to carry out certain specified practices in order to qualify for additional payments, but Defra said they have historically delivered little for the environment, as was documented in the European Court of Auditors 2017 Special Report on greening.

Defra Secretary, George Eustice, said: “The so-called greening requirements have added little to our environmental efforts. We believe that farmers will benefit from this reduced bureaucratic burden next year as we begin the move towards our new Environmental Land Management scheme which will deliver greater benefits for the environment.

“We will be setting out more detail in the autumn on how we will ensure a smooth transition for our farmers, as they move towards our new, fairer agricultural system, which will reward them for the hard work that they do to protect our environment.”

The agricultural transition period, starting in 2021, will last for seven years and see direct payments to farmers in England phased out gradually and replaced with a new system that rewards farmers for delivering public goods, such as tree or hedge planting, river management to mitigate flooding, and creating or restoring habitats for wildlife.

In the majority of cases, the gradual reduction in these payments will be offset by alternative support being made available to help farmers improve their productivity and aid their transition into the new Environmental Land Management scheme.

Defra said the new Environmental Land Management scheme, expected to be rolled out in late-2024, will introduce new ways of working together with farmers to deliver better environmental outcomes and reverse the decline of some of our most cherished species

The ‘national conversation’ around the future Environmental Land Management scheme is open until July 31, with farmers warmly invited to share their views on a policy discussion document available on CitizenSpace. Farmers will also continue to be able to apply to Countryside Stewardship schemes until it is rolled out.

Clarification

NFU vice president Tom Bradshaw said: “The NFU has been seeking clarification of the greening rules for the 2021 scheme for many months, particularly around the position on the crop diversification rules, so that our members can plan their cropping for harvest 2021.

“Although the NFU has never been critical of the environmental intent of the crop diversification requirements, we have always been concerned that this EU-legacy scheme has never been applied with the flexibility needed to suit varying weather and farming situations in Britain.

“I am hopeful that the changes to greening rules will remove some of the complexities farmers face in interacting with multiple scheme rules.

“At the same time, I am confident that farmers will use experiences of greening to develop their existing approaches to land management and build on their invaluable role working to protect and enhance the environment as we prepare for the introduction of a new domestic agricultural policy and Environmental Land Management Schemes. “

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