Landowners, farmers and their agents will have received details of reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy in stages over the past few months. Major changes have been introduced to the direct payments that farmers receive, now called the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). One of the changes, known as ‘Greening’ is designed to encourage biodiversity and includes crop diversifications and Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs). And 30 per cent of the BPS will be subject to fulfilling these compulsory requirements. The rules state that if you farm between 10 and 30 hectares of arable land, then you must plant two different crops, if you farm more than 30 hectares, then you must plant three different crops. In both cases, your largest crop should not cover more than 75 per cent of your arable area. In the case of the three-crop rule, your two largest crops should not cover more than 95 per cent of your arable area. But if you farm more than 15 hectares, the rules on EFAs will apply. Five per cent of your arable area will need to be made over to EFAs. There is limited range of options, including buffer strips, nitrogen fixing crops, hedges and catch/cover crops. Applications will require access to the new CAP Information Service through the GOV.UK website. This has been designed to be easy to use and will simplify and speed up much of the work that has to be completed by the closing date for applications, 15 May each year. For further information, click on this link here. For any advice or services connected to rural property, contact Benjamin Hamilton at our land management department on 01380 729 777 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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