Possible Pesticide Ban under Greening?

Mon, Feb 27, 2017
The use of pesticides on EFA-land, notably nitrogen fixing crops such as peas and beans, looks set to be banned from next year.  This comes following the European Commission College adopting a Delegated Act on the ‘simplification’ of the BPS Greening measures.  This includes the introduction of a ban on pesticides on productive Ecological Focus Area (EFA) options.  This covers fallow land, catch and green cover crops but in particular EFA nitrogen-fixing crops - i.e pulses being grown to satisfy the EFA requirement.  For fallow and catch/cover crops the ban would apply during the crops’ minimum retention period i.e. for fallow land not less than 6 months and catch crops not less than 8 weeks.  For under-sown catch crops, a specific derogation would allow for the ban to start from the date of harvest of the main crop.  After these 'ban periods' farmers would be able to use pesticides to prepare for the next crop.

 

Other simplifications include:

·       changes to EFA rules to make them easier to understand and implement

·       making certain EFA options more attractive

·       removing the sowing deadline for catch and cover crops

·       greater flexibility for the qualification of some EFA landscape features

 

The Council and the European Parliament have 2 months (with a possible 2 month extension) to scrutinise the Act.  Neither are able to make amendments, they can either accept or reject the changes.  The Act is expected to enter into force by mid 2017.  If accepted the changes will apply from 2018, a year later than initially planned. 

 

Under his simplification agenda, the EU Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan, introduced some changes to the legislation last year.  This included a reduction in the minimum duration of fallow land from 9-6 months and also a reduction in the duration for catch crops, reduced from 10 to 8 weeks, Member States did have the option to introduce these changes from 2017, but all of the devolved administrations decided to introduce them from 1 st January 2018.  Therefore, a suite of changes looks likely for the BPS, possibly the last year of the scheme in the UK. 
 
Scottish Changes

Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, has announced planned changes to the Greening rules in Scotland.  The aim is to introduce the changes from 2018 which include revisions to the Ecological Focus Area (EFA) rules and EFA features:

·       hedges will count as a separate EFA feature

·       agro-forestry planted under the Forestry Grant Scheme and located on temporary grass will be a new EFA feature

·       the Government will try to get the period during which maintenance of field drains is not allowed on EFA fallow shortened.

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