The 2014-2020 reform of EU’s CAP is resolutely insisting farmers make efforts to keep natural resources and couples the de-coupled direct aids to green payments.
Direct aids “greening” which comprises crop diversification, maintaining existing permanent pastures and keeping ecological focus areas accounts for 30 % of the annual financial envelope of each MS. Green payments are introduced in addition to cross compliance rules – statutory management requirements (SMR) and good agricultural and ecologic conditions (GAEC). While noncompliance with these rules results in reduction of subsidy due, green payments represent a separate aid scheme for which certain requirements has to be met.
Green payments involve three directions and depend on the very structure of the agricultural holding, its size and planted crops.
Diversification of crops is the first greening requirement which farmers have to meet. Bulgarian authorities will calculate the area of each crop within the holding over the period between 15th May and 15th July of year of application.
The second requirement envisaged under the green payment scheme is keeping ecological focus area (EFA). European regulations allow member states to determine EFA types which farmers have to establish and maintain for the sake of biodiversity, keeping traditional practice and protection of landscape features. EFAs may be part of the arable land within the holding, planted with specific crops or land lying fallow. They may be landscape features (single trees, group of trees, field margins) which are not used for agricultural activities but are part of the holding, i.e. the farmer has legal rights for the area.
Designation and protection of environmentally sensitive permanent grassland is the third element of the greening requirements. If farmer has such areas they will be included in the Permanent grassland layer. Environmentally sensitive permanent grassland is land within an officially proclaimed Natura 2000 zone and these areas cannot be converted into arable land or be ploughed.
Reductions in green payment scheme for noncompliance with requirements are serious as farmers may lose up to 50 % of the aid. Additional administrative sanctions will be imposed as of 2017.
Under the objective to help farmers winning the “green” challenge, the team at Centre for innovative agriculture has developed a form which checks if a given holding meets requirements. The form, which represents our understanding of applicable law, is a kind of guide for planning activities and results serve for just for information.
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