Sunday, 1 February 2015
First Snowdrops ,The Common Agricultural Policy
The 1st of February & I found the first snowdrops this morning, always a cheerful sight especially with the current bitter weather we've been having. We seem to have had days of sleet & hail but no actual snow unlike other parts of the country, although neighbours 2-3 miles away but few feet higher than us have reported a sprinkling of snow on their roads & fields.
The Farmer & I attended a meeting of the local branch of the Farmer's Union of Wales
(www.fuw.org.uk) a couple of evenings ago. The meeting was to bring us an update on the Common Agricultural Policy for 2015. And what a complicated, long-winded and at times incomprehensible set of documents it is!
As farmers we have always been supported (& that is a whole other point for discussion), but the way in how this support is delivered is changing this year, bringing in a raft of new rules & definitions. For example the new rules on trees & hedges...if there are 3 trees in a straight line then they could constitute a hedge or 'a landscape feature' but if they are growing together and create a canopy then the land underneath them will be deducted from any area payment made, even if that land is grazed or harvested. There is also a document on the definition of a tree!
The new system of payments is moving from historic to area-based payments though no-one seems very clear on exactly what is going be brought in. It seems the Welsh Assembly itself is not sure what is going on either and the FUW ( and other farming bodies)is left in state of frustration at not being able to give clarity on a number of issues raised by farmers.
The only thing that is certain is that the subsidy payments are going to be less than in previous years.