Agri-environment schemes funding gap in England
03 October 2013
The current Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) ends on 31 December 2013. Whilst the high level decisions regarding the design of the new CAP are now virtually complete in Brussels, work is being carried out nationally for a successor to the current RDPE.
In England a ‘New Environmental Land Management Scheme’ (NELMS) will be introduced in 2015; however DEFRA’s application for the new Rural Development Programme is likely to be completed in summer or autumn of 2014 leaving insufficient time to start the scheme on 1st January 2015.
As all new schemes will have to start in January in the future, the likely start date is 1st January 2016, potentially leaving a one year gap for all agri-environment schemes including OELS. Payments will continue as usual to farmers already in OELS and other agri-environment schemes – until their agreements expire, but after 2014, most renewals or new applications will be refused until NELMS starts in January 2016.
Organic farmers will be able to enter new OELS agreements during 2014 (this extension is only available for OELS, HLS and Uplands schemes). We strongly recommend any licensees whose schemes run out in 2014 or any new applicants to apply as early as possible in 2014. Agreements set up in 2014 under the current system can continue to be run over the normal lifespan of OELS.
We have been lobbying to ensure that there isn’t a gap in payments on your behalf, for example by writing to David Heath MP, who is responsible for OELS. His response states that there will be an opportunity to make your voice heard on this issue in a public consultation on the RDPE due to start in Autumn 2013.
We will suggest some key areas you might like to cover in your response in order to support organic farmers; please look out for details in email updates. We have had confirmation from the Welsh government there will be no gap in payments for organic farmers in Wales and we understand that the Scottish Government are taking a similar approach to England.