This has come as a real blow to many farmers out there. Whilst I am not an agronomist and therefore not my area of specialty I strongly believe there are things that can be done to prepare your farm and business for this transition…
What has happened?
Last week (15th June 2017), MEPs voted to prevent the use of pesticides in Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) under new Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) rules. The new rules come into force in January next year (2018). As I’m sure you’re aware, to qualify for BPS, if you have more than 15 hectares of arable land, you must designate at least 5% of your land to EFA. The EFAs are cultivated to promote biodiversity by establishing field margins, hedgerows and buffer strips. Therefore, from next January, pesticide use will no longer be allowed on nitrogen-fixing crops, fallow, cover and catch crops that are counted as EFA. We are still waiting on the exact rules from the EU at this stage.
What can I do to protect my business going forwards?
The main thing here is not to panic and to get organised! If you fail to plan, you plan to fail (Benjamin Franklin). Here are some top tips on what you should be thinking about now:
- Do the calculations now, rather than rushing at the last minute, or worse, waiting until you have crops in the ground and realising you need to change what is in there
- There probably isn’t an alternative cropping plan but there are things to consider instead of using crops that need pesticides to hit your EFA requirement, these include considering:
Cover cropping where appropriate
Field margins (out of CSS if you don’t want to reduce your payment)
Buffer strips alongside watercourses
Fallow if it compliments your rotation
- Get help if you need it, if this is something that phases you, speak to a professional to assist with your planning- not only will this help you with what you can do on your farm but they will be able to give you the most cost-effective way of making any necessary changes for you!
Where can I get more help?
I no longer work in farm business, but the team I left are very well equipped to help you with this! Contact Guy Banham at Berrys if you’d like to discuss your options going forwards- firstname.lastname@example.org or 01536 532379 / 07971 917984