Monday, 26 May 2008

Farmers face losing EU subsidies unless they promise to go green

The European Commission is to announce today an end to the controversial set-aside payment scheme - under which farmers were paid to leave about 8 per cent of their fields fallow - as part of further reform of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP).
The payments, intended originally to prevent the creation of grain mountains in Europe, are regarded as outdated, given the worldwide shortage of grain that is being driven by demand from China and India.
The payments were suspended this year, but the European Union has ruled that this should now be permanent. Farmers will continue receiving payments from the EU, however, if they make environmental improvements to between 3 per cent and 5 per cent of their land. They will have to agree to keep field margins next to rivers, canals and streams out of production and free from pesticide sprays.
Defra has commissioned a series of reports to help it to reach a decision. The British Trust for Ornithology has been asked to conduct scientific modelling on the impact that the loss of set-aside land has had on farmland birds.

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