Policy/CAP implementation (Organised by ORC)

The debating is at an end and the process of launching schemes and inviting applications is underway. This session aimed to explore what is being implemented and seek clarification of open questions.

Trevor Mansfield (Soil Association): Chair

Session Summary

Trevor Mansfield welcomed the very up-to-date news on what support will be available to organic producers in the up-coming Rural Development Programme. All the information provided in this workshop session was stated to be subject to EU approval in December 2014.

Naomi Oakley (Natural England) gave an overview of the CAP and RDP implementation plans in England, based on a presentation prepared by John Place from Defra, who was unable to attend. Naomi also gave details of the New Environmental Land Management Scheme, which is to be called Countryside Stewardship (CS). Basic support for organic producers will be provided by specific organic options including conversion and maintenance payments. Points are a thing of Environmental Stewardship and they will not be carried forward into CS. There is no minimum size threshold, but the land must in agriculture or horticulture to qualify. The organic maintenance or conversion options sit on the land and then other options can sit on top of them, to ‘buy’ additional management. Most options can be co-located together – but there are a few that are specifically for organic systems, in the arable group, e.g. the multi-species ley (available for 2-5ha only). Other options are targeted for specific habitats and also public access. In the Higher and Mid tiers of the CS there are management options. The Higher Tier will be available by invitation only, similar to HLS in targeting, with an adviser for support. Mid-Tier will be targeted, but without direct involvement of NE advisers. There may be advice for groups of farms acting together with a specific habitat aim. There is a hedges and boundaries maintenance grant for £5,000 per year – but this is not available if in Higher or Mid-Tier agreements on that parcel of land. Guidance on CS will be available on-line, with external advice and events.

Nic Lampkin (ORC) gave an overview of RDP and organic support in Wales. There are no targets for numbers of participants in the organic sector, but the Welsh government would like to bring back in some of the farmers who have ceased organic production. Conversion payments would not be available for these farmers for 3 years since organic certification by the same owner or business, but maintenance payments may be available. There is no support for organic farming in Northern Ireland. Business plans are required in Wales – to ensure the organic management is thought-through and as assistance to the farmer. A ‘viability assessment’ will be required for England and Scotland. The audit process will be more robust in the new EU regulation, including conversion planning – see report on the workshop held later in the conference for more detail.

Key conclusions

  • All the information provided in this workshop session was stated to be subject to EU approval in December 2014.
  • There is a shift in balance of organic payments, relatively more for maintenance and less for conversion.
  • Thanks to the engagement by ORC, OCW and others in the organic sector, the payments are better than first proposed.

Action points

Individual speaker presentations and abstracts

Naomi Oakley (Natural England): Rural Development Programme – An overview of what is available (192kb pdf file)

Delivered by Naomi Oakley on behalf of John Place (Defra), who couldn’t attend the Conference. No abstract available.

Naomi Oakley (Natural England): Organic options available in Countryside Stewardship (1.08mb pdf file)

Countryside Stewardship is a voluntary scheme that rewards farmers, foresters and other land managers for managing their land and water in a more sustainable way that enhances the wildlife and character of the countryside. The scheme has one-off and multi-annual grants to choose from that can deliver a wide range of environmental outcomes.

Nic Lampkin (ORC): Glastir Organic and other RDP support scheme for organic producers in Wales (140kb pdf file)

The Welsh RDP proposals cover a wide range of measures but several are of particular relevance to organic producers. Although not yet approved by the EU Commission, the Glastir Organic scheme has opened and closed for 2015 agreements, with most existing organic producers and several new converters applying to join. A requirement of the new scheme is that all participants should have a business plan completed by the end of 2015, requiring training and advisory support under a new Farming Connect framework still under develop-ment (also a focus of the IOTA business planning work-shop later in the conference). Glastir Organic does not cover capital investments, but organic producers have been prioritized for the Sustainable Production Grant scheme, which promises to cover a wide range of rele-vant investments. Other Glastir and RDP options, includ-ing forestry, marketing and processing investments, open to organic producers will also be reviewed.

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