Greening confusion over 'gappy' hedges and share-farming
Confusion over the greening requirements contained in CAP reform is preventing farmers from making decisions about planting plans over the coming weeks.
The issue was centre-stage at an Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) seminar on the topic in Horse and Jockey last week. While Department of Agriculture officials claimed that most queries about how the scheme will operate have been ironed out, they admitted that the rules governing share-farming require further clarification.
Speaking after the event, ACA president, Tom Dawson, advised consultants and farmers to avoid "skimping on percentages" for crop diversification and environmental focus areas (EFAs).
It is not compulsory for farmers to comply with the greening rules, but it will be unavoidable for those that do not want to lose 30pc of their Single Farm Payment from next year.
The main stumbling blocks for farmers are meeting crop diversification and EFA requirements, especially in relation to 'gappy' hedgerows.
Mr Dawson said that farmers will also need to become familiar with a number of potentially confusing terms.
For example arable lands emcompasses both 'temporary grassland' and 'tillage land'. The former is any area that is in grass in the current year but has had a tillage crop on it during the previous five years. Tillage lands are areas under tillage crop in the current year.