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Legal basis of the Common Agricultural Policy

Rural Payments Agency

Rural Payments Service

What's new

Poultry and bird keeping



The regulation of agriculture and farming in the UK is to a large extent based on the law of the European Union, and in particular the measures required to achieve the objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy.

Since joining the EU, the UK has implemented the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which as three declared objectives:

*          to increase agricultural productivity through technological progress, optimising factors of production, especially labour;

*          to ensure a fair standard of living for the agricultural community;

*          to stabilise markets;

*          to assure the availability of supplies; and

*          to ensure supplies reach consumers at a reasonable price.

UK agriculture receives around €4.0 billion in support from the EU every year via the CAP, As a member of the EU, the UK contributes to the CAP funds. The CAP is

comprised of two ‘pillars’:

*             Pillar 1 provides Direct Payments, accounting for about 88% of total payments (€3.2 billion in the UK in 2016). It also funds payments under the Common Market Organisation Regulation (CMO); the entire CMO funding received from the EU was €86m in 2016.

*             Pillar 2 accounts for the remaining 12%, supporting environmental outcomes, farming productivity, socio-economic outcomes and rural growth (€0.8 billion in 2016).

Pillar 1 comprises three Direct Payment schemes in England: the basic payment scheme (BPS), greening and the young farmer payment. The three schemes combine to give each farmer applying a single Direct Payment for the scheme year, which runs from 1 January to 31 December. BPS is an area-based annual payment, made to farmers. BPS accounts for almost 70% of the Direct Payments budget. The CMO and market measures are also part of Pillar 1. These include private storage aid, intervention purchasing and other market measures that are product-specific.

Pillar 2 measures are delivered through multiannual Rural Development Programmes in England and in each of the Devolved Administrations. The current programme period runs from 2014 to 2020. Most of the Pillar 2 expenditure is on environmental schemes which bring public benefit and would not always be considered by the market, for example environmental land management through agri-environment and forestry schemes.

Legal basis of the CAP


Pending further UK legislation following Brexit,  EU legislation continues in effect. Articles 38 to 44 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“the TFEU”) provide for the Common Agricultural Policy which replaces member

States’ agricultural policies by intervention mechanisms at a European

Community level.

The CAP regulations can be broadly divided into four subject areas, each of which is governed primarily by one or two directly applicable EU regulations (also referred to as basic acts). There are five key basic acts in the latest CAP regime, two of which cover rural development, whilst the rest cover Direct Payments, the Common Market Organisation (CMO) and cross cutting provisions that apply to all CAP payments:

*          rules that are cross-cutting and apply to all areas of the CAP: Regulation 1306/2013 on the financing, management and monitoring of the common agricultural policy (“the horizontal basic act”);

*          rules that relate only to Direct Payments: Regulation 1307/2013 establishing rules for Direct Payments to farmers under support schemes within the framework of the common agricultural policy (“the Direct Payments basic act”);

*          rules that relate only to Rural Development measures: Regulation 1305/2013 on support for Rural Development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (“the Rural Development basic act”); and Regulation 1303/2013 laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (“the common provisions basic act”); and

*          rules relating to the Common Market Organisation: Regulation 1308/2013 establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products “CMO”); and Regulation 1370/2013 determining measures on fixing certain aids and refunds related to the common organisation of the markets in agricultural products.

There are also several delegated and implementing acts made under powers in the above basic acts setting out further detailed provisions. The above EU regulations will be incorporated into domestic law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.

[Source gratefully acknowledged: House of Commons: Explanatory Notes to the Agriculture. Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0.]

Rural Payments Agency

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is the paying agency for the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) schemes in England. The Agency makes payments to farmers, traders and land owners. It also makes payments on behalf of Natural England, and manages schemes to help ensure a healthy rural economy and strong rural communities.

The RPA is responsible for:

* managing milk quotas and other CAP trader schemes covering dairy products, crops, and fruit and vegetables;

* •export refunds, and import and export licences for the farming sector;

* •making payments for rural development schemes, including environmental stewardship
•running cattle tracing services recording cattle births, movements and deaths each year across Great Britain;

* •carrying out inspections at farms, processing plants and fresh produce markets;

* managing the Rural Land Register, the database of 2.4 million land parcels used for all land-based CAP schemes;

* •enforcing horticultural marketing standards through more than 25,000 checks in wholesale and retail outlets

Rural Payments service

The Rural Payments service is Defra’s online registration system for farmers, animal keepers and rural traders and businesses.

You must register on the Rural Payments service if you intend to keep farmed animals (or livestock) on your land or business premises. Anyone can choose to register on the Rural Payments service but you must register if you are a:

* business importing or exporting agricultural products

*cattle keeper recording animal movements

* farmer or business claiming rural grants and payments

* a person or business (like an ‘agent’ or a firm of agents) who intend to act on behalf of another registered business

Furter information is available on Farm business and financial planning is available on GOV.UK.

The Food Standards Agency has information and guidance on the food safety aspects of farming

What's new on this topic [see What's new or archive pages]

19/06/2020: Dairy Response Fund 2020

Source: Rural Payments Agency

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the dairy industry has faced challenges of excess milk, falling prices, and reduced demand from the hospitality sector. Defra has set up a fund to help those dairy farmers most in need in England overcome the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.


Eligible dairy farmers will include those who have experienced decreased demand for their products as bars, restaurants and cafes have had to close.The fund will be administered by the Rural Payments Agency.

5/02/2020: Last chance to express interest for rural business growth grants

Over £50 million of government funding for rural businesses is still up for grabs with a little over a week left to apply.

The government is encouraging rural businesses, start-ups and enterprises to apply for a share of its Growth Programme, which provides grants from £20,000 up to £750,000 to boost productivity, create local jobs and increase tourism.

To apply for this funding, interested parties need to send an Expression of Interest (EOI) form to the Rural Payments Agency outlining how they meet the criteria for the scheme by midnight on 16 February 2020. Successful applicants will then be invited to submit a full application.

0/01/2020: Farm payments during the transition period

Source: GOV.UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Direct Payments will continue for 2020 with the available funding the same as for 2019. The Government will fund existing Rural Development Programme (RDPE) projects and those approved by 31 December 2020 until those projects end.

Farming support schemes will continue to be run by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) in England, DAERA in Northern Ireland, the Welsh Government in Wales

the Scottish Government in Scotland.

16/01/2020: Bill introduced to replace current subsidy system of Direct Payments

Source: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

The Agriculture Bill has been introduced to Parliament. The Government intends that the proposed legislation will replace the current subsidy system of Direct Payments which pays farmers for the total amount of land farmed, skewing payments towards the largest landowners rather than those farmers delivering specific public benefits.

Direct Payments will be phased out over an agricultural transition period, which is due to start in 2021 and run for seven years. Later in the agricultural transition, the Government plans to ‘delink’ Direct Payments from the current requirement to farm the land under EU law. These payments will be able to be used by farmers to invest in their business, diversify their activities or help new people enter the sector.

The Government has already announced that the funding available for Direct Payments for 2020 will be the same as for 2019, and the Direct Payments to Farmers (Legislative Continuity) Bill has been introduced to Parliament to enable us to make Direct Payments to farmers for the 2020 scheme year– giving much-welcomed certainty to our farmers and food producers.

Further information: the House of Commons Library has published a briefing on the Bill
Agriculture Bill

08/11/2014: Farmer in Scotland wins favourable EU court ruling

Feakins v Scottish Ministers
C-335/13 Hearing Date: 6 November 2014
Court of Justice of the European Union (First Chamber)

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) made a preliminary ruling concerning the interpretation and validity of art 18(2) of Commission Regulation (EC) 795/2004 (laying down detailed rules for the implementation of the single payment scheme provided for in Regulation (EC) 1782/2003 establishing common rules for direct support schemes under the common agricultural policy and establishing certain support schemes for farmers), as amended.

The Scottish Land Court referred the question to the CJEU in an appeal brought by Mr Feakins against a decision of the Scottish Ministers concerning the determination of the reference amount for calculating his single payment entitlements under Council Regulation (EC) 1782/2003.

The Court ruled:

(i) Article 18(2) of the Implementing Regulation should be interpreted as applying, first, in the case where a farmer met the conditions for the application of any two or more of arts 19 to 23a of the Implementing Regulation and, secondly, in the case where a farmer who met the conditions for the application of at least one of parts 19 to 23a of the Implementing Regulation also met the conditions for the application of at least one of arts 37(2), 40, 42(3) and 42(5) of the Basic Regulation (see [45] of the judgment).

(ii) Article 18(2) of the Implementing Regulation should be declared invalid in so far as it precluded a farmer who had suffered exceptional circumstances, within the meaning of art 40 of the Basic Regulation, from benefiting from both an adjustment of his reference amount under that provision and an additional reference amount from the national reserve under one of arts 19 to 23a of the Implementing Regulation, whereas a farmer who had not faced such circumstances and who had been allocated a reference amount calculated pursuant to art 37(1) of the Basic Regulation could receive both that amount and a reference amount from the national reserve under one of arts 19 to 23a of the Implementing Regulation (see [61] of the judgment).

Original text of the case report is copyright of the European Union. Legaleze is solely responsible for the above text which is a summary only and the full report should be read.

Comment: for an explanatory note on this case, see:

Poultry and bird keeping

Keepers of 50 or more birds and certain other flocks must register with the the Animals and Plant Health Agency within one month of keeping 50 or more birds or other event. The law applies to:

* 50 or more birds you keep captive for any period of time

* flocks made up of different species, such as chickens, ducks or geese

*  birds kept for:
o the consumption of meat and eggs
o other commercial purposes
o restocking game birds, or
o breeding for the three purposes above

[Poultry Breeding Flocks and Hatcheries (Registration and Testing) Order 1989 (SI 1989 No. 196]

[Page updated: 21/06/2020]




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