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Green CAP To Hit Livestock/ Dairy Farmers

17 November 2011

UK - Speaking at a National Farmers Union meeting, Gail Soutar, CAP and International Affairs advisor said that Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) proposals will hurt small livestock and dairy farmers. Charlotte Johnston, TheCattleSite editor reports.

New CAP proposals include a mandatory "greening" element. Under this, claimants must demonstrate crop diversification through the farming of three different crops.

If all land is under grass production, then there is no obligation. However if not, three different crops must be farmed within a year, with no one crop exceeding 70 per cent of the area, or falling below five per cent of the total area.

For larger arable units, or any larger farm, this shouldn't be a problem - as they tend to have the capital and ability to diversify crops, said Mrs Soutar. However, for many smaller livestock or dairy farmers who may be predominantly grass, but grow one home crop for feed - this will be an issue.

She said that UK farming unions are fighting against this proposal.

As of yet there is no definition of what a crop is - for example will winter/ spring wheat be classed as one or two crops? A situation similar to what the Commission is proposing is currently in place in France - and it is expected that the Commission will adopt something along those lines.

Explaining how the idea came about, Ms Soutar said that Commissioner Dacian Ciolos is an agronomist by trade. He believes in returning and maintaining carbon in the soil. Crop diversity is one way to do this.

As of yet there doesn't seem to be away around this proposal except to fight it, she said.

There is the possibility of land swaps - however this is extremely complicated and something that the NFU and other farming organisations would like to avoid at all costs.

The issue of permanent pasture was also raised, and it seems to be that it will be impossible to convert permanent pasture to arable after 2014.

Farmers will however be able to convert five per cent of the reference area out of permanent pasture in 2014.



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