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No greening requirement in England from next year

28th Jul 2020 / By Alistair Driver

Defra has confirmed that greening requirements will be dropped in England next year, as the agricultural transition commences. 

George EusticeGreening payments were very much a centrepiece of the Common Agricultural Policy, but according to Defra, they have historically delivered little for the environment, as was documented in the European Court of Auditors 2017 Special Report on greening.

The decision to end the payments was expected as the seven-year agricultural transition to a new domestic farm policy begins in 2021, including the move towards the new new Environmental Land Management scheme.

The change will not affect the overall payment received by each farmer as the money will instead be added to farmers’ entitlements under the simplified Basic Payment Scheme.

Defra Secretary, George Eustice, said:  “The so-called greening requirements have added little to our environmental efforts. We believe that farmers will benefit from this reduced bureaucratic burden next year as we begin the move towards our new Environmental Land Management scheme which will deliver greater benefits for the environment.

“We will be setting out more detail in the autumn on how we will ensure a smooth transition for our farmers, as they move towards our new, fairer agricultural system, which will reward them for the hard work that they do to protect our environment.”

The agricultural transition period will see direct payments to farmers in England phased out gradually and replaced with a new system over seven years that rewards farmers for delivering public goods, such as tree or hedge planting, river management to mitigate flooding, and creating or restoring habitats for wildlife.

Defra said that 'in the majority of cases', the gradual reduction in these payments will be offset by alternative support being made available to help farmers improve their productivity and aid their transition into the new Environmental Land Management scheme. For the pig sector, funding will also be available for animal health and welfare improvements.

Defra said the new Environmental Land Management scheme, expected to be rolled out in late-2024, will introduce new ways of working together with farmers to deliver better environmental outcomes and reverse the decline of some of our most cherished species.

The 'national conversation' around the future Environmental Land Management scheme is open until July 31, with farmers warmly invited to share their views on a policy discussion document available on CitizenSpace. Farmers will also continue to be able to apply to Countryside Stewardship schemes until it is rolled out.