EU greening ‘simplification’ plan gets complicated
Published July 4th, 2017
The European Commission’s plan to ‘simplify’ greening and ban the use of certain Plant Protection Products (PPPS) on Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) nitrogen-fixing crops may now go ahead, despite attempts to stop it.
The Commission’s draft proposals were rejected by the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee in May but since then MEPs have scrutinised the agriculture committee’s motion for resolution and at a plenary session in Strasburg on June 14 voted to reject it.
“Although full details are not confirmed farmers should be aware that this could have major implications for their 2018 cropping programme,” said Charlotte Rogerson, a chartered surveyor with Berrys at Shrewsbury.
“If the proposals go ahead as drafted a ban on the application of PPPs on EFA nitrogen-fixing crops, fallow, cover and catch crops will apply from the BPS 2018 Scheme year.
“This means that farmers who currently grow peas or beans may chose not to grow them if they cannot spray them,” she said.
It is not currently clear whether this ban would only apply during the ‘cropping period’ (May 1 to June 30) or throughout the whole growing season.
“We need clarification as soon as possible so that farmers can make decisions on cropping for next year and ordering the necessary seed,” she said.
If the ban goes ahead farmers can still grow nitrogen-fixing crops in their rotation but they would not be able to count them as EFA if they continued to use insecticides on them.
“To accommodate the ban farmers could consider keeping an area of the nitrogen-fixing crop unsprayed to use as EFA or otherwise they will have to look to their hedges, buffer strips and fallow ground to provide the necessary greening area,” she added.
EFAs were introduced by the 2013 reform of the Common Agricultural Policy to improve biodiversity on farms and benefit the environment. Farmers with more than 15ha of arable land are now in general obliged to have five per cent of their farm covered by the EFA, such as fallow land, terraces, landscape features, or buffer strips.
For further details and advice contact Charlotte Rogerson at Berrys on 01743 290642 or email firstname.lastname@example.org