28.These Regulations will allow farmers to use so-called areas of Ecological Focus Area (EFA) Cover Crops for grazing in 2018. EFAs are areas of land, such as fallow land, on which farmers carry out agricultural practices that benefit the climate and environment. In addition to grazing, the Regulations will allow farmers to sow these areas with grass or other herbaceous forage, or to cut short the period of time that the Cover Crop must be retained under the Common Agricultural Policy. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) explains that the changes are intended to address the current lack of forage for livestock following the prolonged period of dry weather in the summer of 2018. The Regulations are in line with a European Commission Decision which took effect from 18 September and allows EFA Cover Crops to be grazed and for more palatable crop types, such as grass, to be grown in 2018. Defra explains that while the Regulations breach the “21 day rule” according to which there should be at least 21 days between an instrument being laid before Parliament and it coming into force, the Department was unable to lay the Regulations before the EU derogation came into force, and that delaying the Regulations would result in farmers being unable to make full use of the derogation.
29.The purpose of this instrument is to ensure that the system of zootechnical standards set out in EU Animal Breeding Regulation (EU) 2016/1012 operates effectively in England. According to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), these standards seek to facilitate trade in pedigree breeding livestock and germinal products like semen and embryos. Amongst other changes, the instrument designates the Secretary of State as the Competent Authority, with responsibility for overseeing and enforcing the Regulations in England. The instrument also introduces new risk-based controls over breed societies and breeding operations. Defra says that it will apply these controls proportionately using a light touch approach, relying on paper-based controls where possible, and that the Regulations will enable businesses to continue with minimal disruption when the UK leaves the EU.