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    Defra Plans to Re-introduce Set-Aside will Anger Farmers
30/01/09

Farmers in England may soon be forced to re-introduce set aside onto their holding under a new consultation document to be released by Defra.

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The document is due for release next week and it is thought to recommend between four percent and six percent set aside for conservation and biodiversity. The consultation has occurred following lobbying by the RSPCA to Hillary Benn over falling bird numbers which they claim to have coincided with the 2007 set aside reduction from 10 per cent to zero.

The news is likely to anger farmers and landowners who are entered into ELS schemes because the additional set aside requirement cannot include any land currently within an ELS scheme.

Tom Heathcote of Fisher German’s Farm Management Team believes that “Despite the growing concerns regarding food security which is high on the political agenda, DEFRA and Natural England seem set to introduce this requirement. Despite CAP reform, the EU is giving out mixed messages regarding agriculture and seem unable to find the balance between food production and conservation. In the current economic situation, decision making and planning are crucial for the success of farming businesses and these policy changes further add to the uncertainty and concerns that farmers already have. Farmers who are currently entered into ELS schemes have already taken unproductive areas fields out of production and entered them into the scheme, however under the proposed changes, they will have to find the extra land to meet the requirements or face a penalty through cross compliance”

For further information, contact Tom Heathcote on 01858 411222 or visit www.fishergerman.co.uk

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