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Careful consideration a must for environmental issues

by 5m Editor
31 March 2004, at 12:00am

UK - The NFU is giving careful consideration to the long-awaited Defra proposals for environmental conditions that farmers must meet in order to receive the new flat-rate single farm payment (SFP).

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The consultation looks at how Defra will apply these conditions in England.

Replacing the existing CAP production-led support payments from 2005, the SFP will open up new market opportunities for English farmers, while embracing further environmentally-aware farming practices.

To qualify for the SFP, the European regulation requires farmers to meet ‘cross compliance’ measures, including more environmental, animal health and welfare, public health and plant health conditions.

NFU countryside adviser Dr Andrew Clark said: “Cross compliance is a major plank of the new CAP reform, and many of the proposed conditions are already employed in everyday practice by farmers countrywide.

“Obviously we will be looking at the practicality and potential costs of Defra’s proposals, but some of the proposals would create very significant problems and are contrary to the spirit of the recent CAP reform.

“It is not about justifying the direct payments, but about protecting the key features of the countryside. We will want to know that these conditions provide justifiable protection for environmental features.“

Dr Clark added: “We also need to remember it is not just the conditions, but how they are applied. It is also vital that the proposed obligations are clear to farmers, and are inspected in a joined-up and efficient way.“

Source: National Farmers Union - 31st March 2004

5m Editor