Agroforestry and English Rural Development Regulations

Over the weekend I got an email from my friend Stephen Biggs from Abacus Organics about the latest discussion of including agroforestry in the measures that can be supported by the Government.  In the light of recent discussions on flooding, re-wilding and the use of CAP in rural England, I thought it would be interesting to share more widely.
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Dear Friends
I am writing to ask for your support in lobbying your MP, or contacts you have in Defra, Natural England or the Forestry Commission to overturn a decision NOT TO ADOPT agroforestry measures in England which have been made available by the EU under article 23 of Pillar II of the CAP (2014-20) and to ensure that agroforestry is an option under the Eclological focus area Greening Measures in Pillar I.
1) Please find attached a draft letter which you can amend/modify and send asap.
2) Baroness Miller, to whom I am most grateful, kindly agreed to ask some questions in Parliament on agroforestry measure adoption – the questions raised and the responses from the Under Secretary of State Lord de Mauley are below – the responses are most disappointing.
I would be most grateful for your support in Lobbying the Government, Defra etc and trying to overturn the decision on not making agroforestry options available to English Farmers.
Thank you for your support
Stephen Briggs

Please see attached replies to Defra Lords PQs as follows :

THE BARONESS MILLER OF CHILTHORNE DOMER asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Q – to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have assessed the benefits of agricultural systems, generally known as agroforestry, which integrate trees, crops and livestock on the same area of land. [HL4432]

A – In 2012 Natural England commissioned the Organic research Centre and Abacus Organic Associates to consider the potential benefits of AgroForestry and any need for support under the RDPE. Their report ‘CAN AGROFORESTRY DELIVER PRODUCTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS IN THE NEXT RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME’, is due to be published soon
(SB Comment) – a disappointing response – as a joint author of the report I know it was completed and published in March 2013!)Q – to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the reformed Common Agricultural Policy offers the opportunity to support agroforestry under Pillars 1 and 2; and, if so, under which Pillar they intend to support it. [HL4433]
A – There is no explicit support for agro-forestry prectices under pillar 1 direct payments. However, land that is managed under agroforestry may be eligibility for direct payments under pillar 1, provided it meets the land eligibility requirements.
The Rural Development Regulation which governs the next programme provides for an agroforestry measure. Defra does not propose to take up this option in England. However, land that is managed as part of an agroforestry system may be eligible for support through the new environmental land management scheme
Q – to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the analysis of agroforestry by the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development as a “win–win” multifunctional land-use approach that balances the production of commodities with non-commodity outputs such as environmental protection, biodiversity opportunities, cultural and landscape amenities. [HL4434]
A – In 2012 Natural England commissioned the Organic research Centre and Abacus Organic Associates to consider the potential benefits of AgroForestry and any need for support under the RDPE. Their report ‘CAN AGROFORESTRY DELIVER PRODUCTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS IN THE NEXT RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME’, is due to be published soon
The research included a literature review that considered the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development report along with other sources of evidence.
Q – to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there is any difference of approach in policies supporting agroforestry in the four nations of the United Kingdom; and, if so, what. [HL4435]
A – The Government does not intend to apply the agroforestry measure as part of the next Rural Development Programme.
An agroforestry scheme was available in the 2007-13 Rural Development Programme in Northern Ireland. However there was little uptake. Northern Ireland is considering offering support for agroforestry as an option within the Agri-Environment Climate measure under its 2014-20 Rural Development Programme.
Currently there is no grant available to support agroforestry systems in Scotland. However, the intention is to introduce new grants to support agroforestry and tree health in the next Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP), which is currently out for consultation
The Welsh Government have been working with forest industry and farming stakeholders to enable greater integration between farm and woodland management to the benefit of both. The Welsh Government is currently looking at ways to implement this approach within the measures provided by the new Rural Development Regulation.
(SB Comment) – There is good reason why there was little uptake in NI in the 07-13 RDP.  Mainly due to EU Pillar I rules which prohibited trees being planted on agricultural land (or if they were the land would be reclassified as forestry and not eligible for Pillar I support at that time). This was a major barrier to farmers adopting agroforestry.
This issue has been addressed by the EU and under the 2014-20 CAP agroforestry is a valid land use and supported by the CAP i.e as Ecological focus area options and also under article 23 of Pillar II RDP. The barriers have now been removed with regard to agroforestry being eligible for Pillar I support and this will no longer be a barrier to farmers in adopting agroforestry.It is likely that Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will adopt agroforestry measures through either agricultural or forestry schemes and thus English Farmers will be denied the opportunity to adopt climate smart agroforestry systems which  could also help advance tree planting towards the Governments own  target of 16% tree cover. WE NEED TO FIGHT THIS DECISION for ENGLAND
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