Thousands of people involved in farming, wildlife preservation and rural businesses will receive first details this week (15 April) setting out how they might benefit from £15 billion in EU funding over the new seven years Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) period.
Defra, working with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), Natural England, Forestry Commission and the Rural Development Team has published more information on how the new schemes will work, as part of a drive to ensure people are given regular updates so they know what they need to do to claim and when.
The CAP Reform Countdown An Introduction to the new Common Agricultural Policy schemes in England is being sent to more than 110,000 existing customers of land-based schemes in England and includes a timeline drawing together on a single page a snapshot of all the schemes. There is also more information on the roll-out of a new online service which will make it quick and simple to apply.
Farming Minister George Eustice said:
“We are determined to implement the CAP in a way that is as simple, affordable and effective as possible and are working together across Defra to help people understand how the reforms will affect them, what they need to do and when, and how to get more information.
“Defra has worked hard over years of negotiations to get the best deal possible for the UK’s farmers, rural communities and the environment. Our aim now is to ensure everyone who wants to apply for a share of these CAP funds is able to do so quickly and simply and that the countdown to the new CAP is as smooth as possible.”
Mark Grimshaw, Chief Executive of the RPA said:
“This implementation is being done in a very different way to last time because the system is being built in stages. Therefore, the transition will be an evolving process.
“However, there is action farmers can take, and decisions they must make, throughout the coming months to ensure they are ready to apply in 2015 for the new schemes. They will need to play their part in making sure the information we hold is accurate throughout the year.
“At each step of the countdown, the most up to date guidance will be on GOV.UK to help farmers, land managers and rural businesses understand how the new CAP will affect them. This first information is also going out to all existing customers by e-mail or paper.”
The GOV.UK website provides a single point of access to further guidance on CAP. The new CAP Reform Countdown symbol on the cover of the information is being used to flag up important information about CAP Reform. Farmers and land managers will see this on webpages and other documents in coming months.
As decisions are made this information will be:
- Timely – RPA is already letting farmers and land managers know now with their 2014 Single Payment Scheme (SPS) applications about early business decisions they must take on issues like entitlements transfer and crop diversification.
- Available to everyone who needs it – existing and potential new customers
- Easy to understand and act upon – no complicated jargon
- Clearly signposted – the CAP Reform Countdown symbol means there is important information you need to know or actions to take now.
- Summer – More information on greening. Asking some farmers to look at the new system to check personal and business details. This will be an on-going process rolling out to all customers by the end of the year.
- Autumn – clear guidance for young farmers and new entrants to the scheme.
- Winter – information and guidance will be published on the new environmental land management scheme (NELMS).
- Early in 2015 – farmers and land managers will be able to look at their land online and check their entitlements are accurate
- Most of the funding under the new CAP period (more than £11.5bn) will be paid under direct payment schemes to farmers. The new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) – including the greening payment and the young farmer payment - will replace the Single Payment Scheme (SPS).
- There will also be at least £3.5 bn of investment into the environment and rural economy under Rural Development schemes over the next seven years. The programme will support the environment, the farming and forestry sectors, and businesses and communities in rural areas. Even with a smaller overall CAP budget, the government will be spending a bigger share on the environment than before.
Anyone interested in reading more about CAP reform and the discussions that are taking place – including the Defra consultations – should go to www.gov.uk/cap-reform.