Environmentally friendly farming rules reviewed.
Plans to introduce changes to “greening” rules, which improve the impact farming has on the environment, have been announced by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing.
The planned changes for 2018 include:
- Hedges will be able to count as a separate type of Ecological Focus Area (EFA)
- Agro-forestry supported under the Forestry Grant Scheme and located on temporary grassland will be able to count as EFA
- We will seek to shorten the period during which maintenance of field drains is prohibited on EFA fallow
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:
“We are committed to ensuring that greening rules are effective for the environment and do not introduce a disproportionate burden for our farmers.
“Having listened to concerns raised by the industry and considered the issues very carefully, we plan to introduce changes to Scotland’s greening rules from 2018.
“While these changes in themselves will make a difference, there is more we can and should be doing to ensure the sustainability of farming and food production in the future.”
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:
“CAP greening provides an important opportunity to reward and incentivise sustainable farming practices but the arrangements must be practical for farmers.
“The changes we are announcing will help provide increased flexibility for farmers, while maintaining their contribution to the Scottish Government’s climate change, biodiversity and water quality commitments."
John Kinnaird, former NFU Scotland President who is the Scottish Government’s agricultural sustainability champion, commented:
“I welcome the announcement of these changes. This is a start, albeit a small one within the constraints of current regulations, with hopefully more to come. They show the Scottish Government has been listening.
“But it is also important to acknowledge that many farmers and crofters are very often undertaking environmental measures that go beyond Greening. We need to get to a position that allows the good work undertaken all over Scotland to be acknowledged and supported appropriately."
Under European Union Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) rules, farmers are required to meet greening requirements in return for the greening element of their Pillar 1 payment.
The total greening payment is 30% of the Pillar 1 budget in each Member State (the total annual greening budget in Scotland is approx. €158 million).
A further announcement on the development of detailed implementation rules for each of the planned changes to greening rules will follow shortly.
An analysis of the impacts of the changes to greening rules requested by farmers will also be published.
The European Commission is undertaking a Simplification Review of greening. The proposals under consideration include a ban on the use of plant protection products on productive EFA areas, including fallow, nitrogen-fixing crops, catch crops and green cover. Further changes to Scottish greening rules will be considered once the Review has concluded in April 2017.