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Single payment scheme

by 5m Editor
15 December 2004, at 12:00am

UK - Defra today announced how some commoners and owners of common land in England will be able to benefit from the new single payment scheme, and further details of the operation of the National Reserve.

Commons

In order to access the new scheme, all applicants (whether commoners or not) will have to be "farmers" as defined in the EU legislation. This means that they will have to declare on the application form that they are engaged in production and/or are keeping the land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC).

For those that satisfy the test, payment entitlements will be issued according to the proportion of total grazing rights they hold on the common. Officials will be holding discussions with representatives of interested parties in respect of the New Forest, where special conditions apply.

Stocking rates will be set for the various types of common and will be compared with the total grazing rights issued in respect of the common. Where the total grazing rights available on the common do not lead to the potential for overstocking it will be open to the common owner, who must also be a farmer, to claim entitlements on the surplus grazing.

Farming Minister Lord Whitty said "I am pleased to be able to announce this further decision that will allow the farming community to plan for next year with a little more certainty. This is a legally complex area. I know that some will be disappointed that we have not chosen to allocate the entire area of commons to current users in order for them to claim entitlements.

"But not only would this have generated unwarranted windfalls, it also raised some legal questions about future access for those rights holders who may acquire entitlements on the market. I am convinced that we have chosen a fair solution to a difficult and complex problem."

National Reserve

Defra announced on 2 November the categories of farmer that would be eligible for an allocation from the National Reserve, together with some details on how awards would be calculated. Today's announcement provides further information.

New Entrants

New Entrants will have their allocation based on the land they held on 2 November 2004 provided it was not used for dairying or the production of other previously unsubsidised commodities. For each hectare of qualifying land their reference amount will be increased by the area average value of entitlements.

Investors

Farmers who invested in land or production capacity by 15 May 2004 as part of an investment plan will have their allocation based on the difference between their reference amount and subsidy receipts in 2004, calculated on a scheme by scheme basis.

Transfer of leased land

Farmers who received land that was leased to a third person during the reference period, from a farmer who died or retired before 16 May 2005, will have their reference amount increased by the area average value of entitlements for each hectare received.

Lease and purchase of leased land

Farmers who, between the end of the reference period and 15 May 2004, leased land for 6 years or more, or purchased land which was under lease during the reference period, will receive an allocation provided their holding is not used for dairy production. For each additional hectare of land their reference amount will be increased by the area average value of entitlements.

Dairy converters

Farmers who voluntarily converted, during the reference period and by 15 May 2004, from milk production into another production sector that previously received subsidies will have an allocation based on the difference between their reference amount and the claims actually made during the first full scheme year after conversion.

Participants in the Energy Crops Scheme

Farmers who participated in the Energy Crops Scheme during the reference period will receive an allocation, based on a set rate per hectare, for each hectare they had under the Scheme.

Participants in Nationally Funded Agri-environment Schemes

Farmers who participated in Nationally Funded Agri-environment Schemes during part of the period 1997 - 2002 will receive an allocation based on the difference between their subsidy receipts for the year before joining the Scheme, in respect of those subsidies affected by participation in the Scheme. For those participating in a Scheme for the whole of the period 1997 - 2002 their allocation will be based upon the difference between the average area value of entitlements and the initial value of their entitlements for each hectare they had in the Scheme

Six year leases

For a number of National Reserve categories leases need to be of six years or more duration. Tenancies under the Agricultural Holdings 1986 Act will qualify even if their initial term is less than six years.

Participants in EC funded Agri-environment Schemes

Farmers who participate in EC funded Agri-environment Schemes are covered by the hardship provisions of the EC Regulations, not the National Reserve. Those who participated in Schemes for the whole of the period 1997 - 2002 will have their reference amount enhanced by the difference between the average area value of entitlements and the initial value of their entitlements for each hectare they had in the Scheme

Lord Whitty said, "I am also pleased to be able to announce more detail about the allocations from the National Reserve, which I know the industry has been eagerly awaiting. We have tried to achieve as fair a system as possible, but without making things unduly complicated for farmers"

Source: Defra - 15th December 2004

5m Editor