Warning over ploughing out permanent pasture

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FARMERS are being warned to avoid falling foul of ‘greening proposals’ forcing them to retain a percentage of permanent pasture.

According to Paul White, of rural consultant Brown and Co, increasing numbers of farmers considering ploughing out permanent pasture could face heavy penalties without the right advice.

He said: “More farmers are looking to cultivate pasture following revelations that the latest draft of CAP reform includes so-called greening proposals,” he said.

“If implemented, these proposals would force farmers to retain an area of permanent pasture within five per cent of that indicated on their 2014 SPS form.”

Mr White said that, provided procedures were followed correctly, there was an opportunity for farmers to consider removing permanent pasture before 2014, subject to meeting any cross compliance rules. However, he added: “These rules also defer to the Environmental Impact Assessment (Agricultural) Regulations, which can apply to projects above 2ha in size where the intention is to increase productivity of uncultivated land or semi-natural areas.”

EIA regulations cover land that has not been cultivated in the past 15 years, or is defined as semi-natural.

Any work, not just ploughing or cultivation, aimed at increasing the productivity of such land for agriculture is subject to such regulations.