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Insurance set-aside poses topping bother
08/03/07

Farmers and landowners with insurance set-aside need to be aware that they could fall foul of management restrictions on the land for the first time this year, warns rural consultant Fisher German.

Watch how you treat uncropped land, warns Fisher German's Richard Sanders.
Watch how you treat uncropped land, warns Fisher German’s Richard Sanders.

“In the past, you could safely allocate more land than the minimum requirement and manage all of it as set-aside,” notes the company’s farm consultancy partner Richard Sanders. “From this year, the Rural Payments Agency will assume insurance set-aside is managed under Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) 12.”

Importantly this means the land cannot be topped between 1 March and 31 July to avoid disturbing ground-nesting birds, while there are no such restrictions on set-aside land. “If you want to keep the land tidy without breaking cross-compliance rules, it may be best to plant a crop or manage it as bare fallow or grass,” advises Mr Sanders.

GAEC 12 conditions apply to any land, eligible for single payment entitlements, that has been withdrawn from agricultural production and is over and above the area necessary to meet your set-aside obligation. The land can now be managed as bare fallow, provided this is to control weeds, such as blackgrass, and appropriate measures are taken to control soil erosion. Otherwise vegetation may not be cut until 1 August, unless this is necessary to comply with the 1959 Weeds Act (to control ragwort, for example).

For more information and general assistance on Single Payment or other land management issues, call Richard Sanders or David Gibb at Fisher German on 01858 411234, or e-mail richard.sanders@fishergerman.co.uk or david.gibb@fishergerman.co.uk.

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