Agroforestry policy and grants
A review of agroforestry within the 2014-2020 CAP was presented by Gerry Lawson at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Farm Woodland Forum at Ballyhaise College, Co. Cavan, Ireland: Policies to encourage trees on farms in the UK and Ireland: comparison of CAP (2014-2020) Pillar I and Pillar II measures. Gerry Lawson, Eugene Curran, Jim McAdam, Mike Strachan, Tim Pagella, Terry Thomas and Jo Smith
Below is a summary of agroforestry within the previous CAP
Single payment scheme (2007-2013)
The Single Payment Scheme (SPS) awarded a set amount per hectare of agricultural land on the condition that the farmer complied with EU standards for public, animal and plant health, environmental and animal welfare (‘cross-compliance’).
The eligibility of agroforestry systems for SPS within the UK depended to a great extent on the nature of the woody component in the system.
Woodlands: Trees managed for timber or wood fuel and planted at densities above 50/ha were eligible for payments if the area could be grazed or agricultural activities could carry on in the same way as if trees weren’t present.
Fruit and nuts: Agroforestry systems that included permanent crops such as top fruit, hardy perennial soft fruits such as blackberries and raspberries, nuts and vines were eligible for payments. In these cases, the field area containing the trees and crops would be split and areas allocated to each component. Nut trees could be supported under the SPS. However they were not eligible for additional funding under the Area Payments for Nuts scheme.
Short rotation coppice (SRC): Agroforestry systems that include short-rotation coppicing for bioenergy were eligible for payments. The field area containing the trees and crops would be split and areas allocated to each component.
Hedges: Boundary hedges were included in the area eligible for aid, unless they exceeded a certain width.
Agroforestry: Agroforestry is eligible for payment in Northern Ireland under SPS. In this case agroforestry was defined as “having agriculture and trees growing on the same land unit. Where land is managed for agroforestry, the tree density is in excess of 50 trees/ha but the planting has taken place in such a way that the area of the field is utilized for agricultural activity in the years of tree establishment.”
Rural development policy (2007-2013)
The Rural Development Policy was introduced into the EU as part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms. This provided support for the delivery of public goods from agriculture and the development of rural areas. The three key themes of the European Commission’s Rural Development Policy 2007-2013 were:
- Improving the competitiveness of the agricultural and forestry sector.
- Improving the environment and the countryside.
- Improving the quality of life in rural areas and encouraging diversification of the rural economy.
The primary focus of RDP within the UK was to protect the environment. Most options aimed to enhance the environmental, biodiversity or cultural value of farmland through careful management of existing features such as hedgerows or the introduction of semi-natural habitats including grass buffers.
Article 44 (2007-2013)
Article 44 of the Rural Development Regulation (2007-2013) covered the first establishment of agroforestry systems on agricultural land (European Council, 2005). It set out that:
‘Support shall be granted to farmers to create agroforestry systems combining extensive agriculture and forestry systems. Support shall cover the establishment cost (70-85% of the establishment cost).’
Here agroforestry systems were defined as land use systems in which trees were grown in combination with agriculture on the same land, and Christmas trees and fast-growing species for short-term cultivation were excluded.
Article 44 was only implemented in the UK in Northern Ireland.