European Agricultural Commissioner Phil Hogan has announced a range of CAP simplification measures but farm unions have criticised the changes, saying they ‘lack ambition’.
Mr Hogan said he intended to make six concrete changes to the Direct Payments guidelines ‘which should facilitate the lives of farmers and national administrations’.
NFU chief economics and international affairs adviser Gail Soutar said the measures would provide some flexibility, but the union, along with NFU Scotland, would continue to call for specific changes to the rules ‘to foresee greater tolerances in cases where farmers are close to fulfilling the new requirements, but unfortunately fall short.’
NFUS chief executive Scott Walker added: "The Scottish Government needs to accept that it has added complexity too, for example by its refusal to use EFA conversion factors that would have greatly simplified measuring some features, both by farmers and SGRPID alike and by its gold-plating of rules on Nitrogen Fixing Crops (NFCs).
"It must avoid any further gold-plating, including on permanent pasture, that go beyond the existing EU requirements."
The Commission’s changes relate to the EFA-layer (Ecological Focus Area), adjacent EFAs, the LPIS (Land Parcel Identification system) and compensation of EFAs in case of wrong declaration. The Commission intends:
Mr Hogan said a second package, to be announced after the summer, would cover young farmers schemes, voluntary coupled support and certain aspects of the IACS.
There will be a further review of the greening rules next year. The Commission said it would aim for these changes to be applicable in 2017.