Awareness needed around greening requirements on field margins, buffer strips and fallow
NFU Scotland is reminding its members that the 2016 Basic Payment Scheme year has started. That means, with regards to the Greening element of support payments, land selected to be used as Ecological Focus Area (EFA) field margins or buffer strips should now be out of production (as of 1 January) – so livestock must be kept off, and no agricultural activity undertaken on it until 31 December 2016.
Land to be used as EFA fallow needs to be taken out of production by midnight on Thursday (14 January). That means no livestock can be present until after 15 July 2016. In addition, crops cannot be present nor be planted on EFA fallow land and maintenance activities such as weed control and drainage are also restricted.
Note should be taken of the change of rules on what temporary grass (TGRS) is eligible to be used as EFA fallow. Although the Union continues to contest the position, the Scottish Government guidance published on 15 October states that TGRS claimed for the 5th time on the 2015 Single Application Form cannot be claimed as EFA fallow in 2016.
The Union has also welcomed today’s announcement that, where farmers have been badly affected by the current severe flooding, and their ability to meet cross-compliance and Greening requirements for the 2016 scheme year has been compromised, they can contact their local area office in writing within 15 days to seek relief from the rules on the grounds of exceptional circumstances (force majeure).
NFU Scotland’s Combinable Crops Chairman Ian Sands said: “Given the severe weather endured in recent weeks, farmers can be forgiven for forgetting that we have now entered a new scheme year and Greening requirements need to be met.
“For those most severely affected by flooding, there is welcome recognition from Scottish Government today (13 January) of the problems being faced and I would urge those whose plans to meet Greening requirements have been thrown into disarray by the floods to notify their local office of their problems and secure some relief from the rules.
“In planning for the 2016 scheme and considering their options for EFA, farmers also need to remember that the equivalence scheme described in the Scottish Government guidance regarding crop diversification will NOT operate this year – as announced by the Cabinet Secretary in late December.
“And as well as keeping abreast of requirements on field margins, buffer strips and fallow, growers should also bear in mind the dangers of the catch crop/green cover options which require that such crops must be planted by 1 October 2016. The challenging weather in autumn 2015 meant some farmers found meeting that requirement very difficult due to delays in harvesting.
“Frustratingly, it is three weeks since the Cabinet Secretary made his announcement on Greening in December and NFU Scotland is still waiting for Scottish Government to make the necessary changes to its original guidance. These relate to the unavailability of equivalence measures as well as necessary detail on field margins around Nitrogen Fixing Crops claimed as EFA and incorporation of green cover crops.
“It goes without saying that NFU Scotland continues to raise our objections to the gold-plating brought in to Greening requirements by Scottish Government and we are feeding into the European review looking at simplification of CAP rules. Scottish farmers take their environmental responsibilities seriously but Scottish Government gold-plating is putting them at a competitive disadvantage and simplification of overly-complex European requirements – not scheduled for delivery until 2017 – simply can’t come quickly enough.”

Latest Articles