Farmers are facing further uncertainty, adding to that resulting from forthcoming changes to Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments, as a result of a legal challenge to the definition of ‘permanent pasture’.
The Single Payment Scheme (SPS) defines permanent pasture as land where grass has been grown for five or more years, irrespective of whether it has been re-seeded. However, the definition has been challenged in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) by a German farmer, who has claimed that because he re-seeded his land it should not be considered as permanent pasture, but rather as land used for crop rotation.
According to Eleanor Sharpston, European Advocate-General, while harrowing or overseeding land is not considered to break the five-year period, it should be considered to break if the land were to be ploughed and re-seeded with a different grass or herbaceous forage mix.
The Advocate-General’s advice is usually accepted by the ECJ, and according to farming consultant Andersons, if the definition of permanent pasture is changed it could disadvantage some UK farmers by forcing them to introduce ‘green’ measures to offset permanent pasture re-classified as arable land.
Legal specialists have warned that farmers preparing for the introduction of the Basic Payment Scheme, which will replace the SPS from 1 January 2015, could also be affected by a change in the legal definition of permanent pasture.
Read more about the challenge to the definition at: http://snipurl.com/28ypbvy
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