THE European Commission has accepted participation in agri-environment schemes could enable farmers to be exempt from at least some Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) greening measures.
The Commission has tabled a ‘concept paper' which makes a number of concessions that reflect the demands of an increasingly influential group of member states, including the UK, currently working together to re-write the greening proposals.
The European Forum for Nature Conservation and Pastoralism (EFNCP) has just published a leaflet outlining farming and conservation organisations' fears and proposals concerning the current CAP rules on permanent pasture and those being considered for 2014 - 2020.
We are a member of the Defra Working Group on CAP reform on commons that is trying to determine the detail of a scheme for SPS on commons. Our core aim is to support and maintain the active responsible management of common land. This is not an easy task and we do not have all the answers.
The key changes we have sought are:
1) Get rid of naked hectares by ensuring SPS is paid on the whole common
2) Ensure money is directed to active commoners whether active through grazing or committing not to graze in an environmental stewardship scheme.
We will be providing more information on how the CAP reform proposals affect commoners in due course. Starter for 10, the 10 key points of the reform proposals are as follows:
1) More targeted income support: fairer, simpler and more targeted support, fairly distributed among "active" farmers. Direct support payments capped at €300,000 in any one year.
2) More responsive and adequate crisis management tools: Safety nets for products most at risk of crisis, including private storage and public intervention, and the creation of insurance and mutual funds.
The Federation of Cumbria Commoners is a member of the Defra Working Group on Post 2013 Pillar 1 support on commons. After much debate at our last committee meeting we have issued a paper setting out our guiding principles - see below. However we recognise that this is a fast developing area and our ideas may change as and when other details of post 2013 reform come to light.
The House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee has published its report into the future of the CAP after 2013. The report criticised the plans for the ‘greening’ of the SPS as an unnecessary complication within the CAP. It also questioned DEFRA’s stance of pushing for the abolition of direct aid. The Committee stated that it should remain until at least 2020, and that DEFRA would not be ‘credible or effective’ in negotiations if it adopted such an extreme position.
The Defra Commons Team invited comments on a paper they submitted to the National Common Land Stakeholder Group's meeting on 23 May 2011, as a basis for discussion about the future of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Pillar 1 support in relation to common land, and particularly actively grazed upland commons, in England.
The read the Federation's response click on the link below.
To download a copy of the Defra paper, click on the link below.