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Explaining the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Reform

(with particular reference to Wales)

Subsidy payments to farmers, for so long the demon of the public perception of farming, have this year undergone a huge change, so you can rest assured that even if you thought so before, farmers are not getting paid for doing nothing.

Since 1992, when CAP reforms were agreed in Europe to combat fraud in the arable livestock payment schemes and ensure fair competition in Europe (fair to whom?!), we have been under the rules of IACS, the Integrated Agricultural Control System.  The rules for payments require:

Very detailed information on farmland use (every square inch);

Filling in of countless forms every year;

The submission of detailed maps.

We could incur penalties for getting something wrong or for the late submission of forms.

Up to this year, the IACS system was production-based, both for livestock (all to be counted down to the last lamb - and recorded) and arable.  There were upwards of 14 payment schemes.  This year and beyond, the schemes are land management and livestock welfare based, still within IACS, and are namely Single Farm Payment Scheme, Aid for Energy Crops, Protein Crop Premium, Tir Cynnal and Tir Mynydd.

Tir Cynnal is a new scheme to enable farmers in Wales who are not already in an agri-environmental scheme to be so.  Those who join must do so for a minimum of 5 years of a 10-year scheme.  They must agree to protect the important environmental areas and features (including historic) on their land.  It is a whole-farm scheme.  Tir Mynydd forms part of the Rural Development Plan (RDP) for Wales.  It is a socio-economic payment to assist farmers to stay in upland rural communities and help to preserve the farmed uplands environment by sustainable management.  There is also Tir Gofal – the Gold Standard of agri-environmental schemes, whole-farm again, strictly controlled reducing stocking levels etc.

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