Responding to the Government announcement (10 June) about new environmental criteria that farmers must meet in order to receive EU payments from 2015, CLA South East has welcomed that Government has listened to farmers’ concerns.
The CLA has said that Government proposals for Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) as required under the greening criteria of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will avoid complex bureaucracy while recognising the environmental work farmers are already undertaking.
The Association responded positively to the announcement by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, saying that giving farmers access to options such as hedgerows to count towards EFAs, means that productive land will not have to be taken out of use.
CLA Director South East Robin Edwards said: “I am pleased that Defra has listened to the concerns of the CLA and its members regarding the implementation of EFAs so that English farmers are not subjected to unnecessary levels of red tape, or put at a stark competitive disadvantage in relation to other member states.
“Without heeding this advice, farmers would have had to take arable land out of production, which would be inconsistent with Government policy to grow the rural economy whilst improving the environment.”
However, the CLA Director South East said he was disappointed by the potential delay to payments for farmers who opt to include their hedgerows as part of their five percent EFA.
Mr Edwards said: “This delay could result in a period of up to 18 months between payments, having a huge impact of farm cash flow.”