Public support in the form of the Single Area Payment (SAP) recognises the economic importance of the farming industry and the role it plays in managing the Island’s environment and safeguarding its natural resources. The SAP is paid annually to all commercial farmers in Jersey, large or small, based on the number of vergees they farm. In 2012 the payment rate was £35 per vergee, broadly equivalent to the Single Farm Payment paid throughout the European Union (including the UK), ensuring Jersey farmers are not disadvantaged in their local and export markets.
The Single Area Payment is a key support measure agreed by the States in the Rural Economy Strategy 2011–2015 and honours a States commitment, made when the UK joined the Common Market in 1973, to ensure that Jersey farmers should remain on a level playing field with their European competitors. This year 81 farmers receive SAP support for their commercial activities on approximately 27,300 vergees, equating to 74% of the agricultural land area in Jersey.
The Single Area Payment is available to all bone fide agriculturalists and smallholders responsible for commercially managing agricultural land and is paid irrespective of what crop is grown. This approach enables farmers to be market focused. It also stimulates diversification while encouraging the increased use of agricultural land, which is so important in managing the rural landscape and maintaining the beauty and biodiversity of the island’s countryside. In addition conditions are applied to the receipt of SAP which safeguard the island’s soil, water and biodiversity by applicants following Good Agricultural and Environmental Practice.
The 2012 SAP has been distributed early, recognising that farmers have faced a difficult growing season due to adverse weather conditions, increased costs of production and a challenging market place. This early payment was made possible by more efficient data handling via the EDD Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) system, making it easier to manage SAP applications and reducing the documentation required from applicants.
Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Deputy Carolyn Labey, said “It is important that the States continues to honour its 1973 commitments to the farming community, made during the negotiations surrounding the UK accession to the Common Market.
“These payments ensure that Jersey businesses are not put at a competitive disadvantage in local and export markets, compared to EU and UK farmers who receive similar levels of support. Such support helps maintain a minimum level of agricultural activity in the Island, recognising that the rural landscape, which defines Jersey, is shaped by farming activity. It also requires environmental best practice and secures jobs in the rural economy.
“It is important to confirm that all bone fide agriculturalists and smallholders are eligible to claim and do claim support payments at exactly the same rate per vergee, regardless of size as laid down in the Rural Economy Strategy 2011-2015.”