Farmers in East Anglia could face losing some of their EU payments to upland farmers in the west and north if the Common Agricultural Policy shareout in England is altered in 2015, according to rural experts at property consultancy Carter Jonas.A consultation launched by DEFRA - which closes at the end of this month - is seeking the views of the farming community across the country regarding reforms that will see money diverted from direct payments to rural development funds.
Arable farmers, who dominate the agricultural industry in this region as well as the central and south eastern regions of England, rely less on direct EU payments for their business to profit, in contrast to the position of their livestock enterprise peers.
Christopher Hawkins, a rural surveyor at Carter Jonas in the region and who is based in the property consultancy’s Cambridge office, explains: “It is yet to be seen whether or not the reallocation of the funding pots now under consultation will appeal to farmers in the east and south east on a compulsory, long term basis.”
Carter Jonas do however comment that all could be potential winners as implementing the new Basic Payment Scheme (or BPS) - as it will be known – should be more straightforward when it comes into force in 2015.
Farmers will not have to apply for new entitlements unlike when CAP was last reformed in 2005 which at the time caused an administrative hangover that lasted well into the following years. Christopher Hawkins concludes: “It would seem DEFRA is set on farmers having to do more environmental work to earn maximum payments. The proposals are not popular in many quarters with uncertainty about implementation and correlation with existing environmental initiatives.
“Those with an interest in farming are recommended to make their voices heard as soon as they can. Comments have to be with DEFRA by November 28 and the Government is required to report back to the EU by December 31.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Christopher Hawkins