New Biofuel Crops Standard Comes Into Force

From 1 July, arable farmers will need to comply with new rules that govern cultivating crops for the biofuel market, as the production standards set out in the EU Renewable Energy Directive (Red) will be tightened.

Farmers Weekly reports that crops that do not meet the new standards, also known as Red II, will not be allowed to be sold for biofuel production, thus lowering their value. Even after the UK left the EU on 1 January 2020, the UK will need to comply with the EU regulations in order to be able to trade corps for biofuel on the lucrative European market.

The standards are administered in the UK by Red Tractor assurances, and chairman Guy Smith said it made sense for as much of the UK crop as possible to comply, explaining that if the biofuel market can use a significant proportion of UK wheat, it will help strengthen its market price, and compliance with Red II will permit access to important markets beyond the UK.

Red II is a single policy that covers both the production and promotion of energy from renewable sources within the EU.

Production of biofuel has considerably increased over the past decade, and further growth is expected in the UK, and the percentage of biofuel in petrol will increase from 5 per cent to 10 per cent from September 2021.

However, this rapid expansion has many people concerns about overproduction, and that land with biodiversity or carbon store could be converted to use for cereals or oilseeds for the biofuel market.

Red II includes rules designed to protect land and prevent the loss of high-ecological status areas via on-farm checks and certification. It is this area of Red II’s remit that will change from 1 July.

Up until 30 June, compliance was a simple act of farmers verifying that they have not started to produce grain for the biofuel market at the expense of ecologically diverse and sensitive areas of their land, which was no longer seen as sufficient.

From 1 July, biofuel crop farmers will need additional record-keeping to provide evidence of transactions, as well as on-farm checks of the types of land used. The main change that farmers will face is a ‘mass balance calculation’.

This is a basic log of the harvested and sold tonnages of grain, and the check will compare the figures to assess that they match up, and prove that grain or oilseed being loaded out of farm stores came from the same assured farm, and not bought from elsewhere, according to Mr Smith.

In addition, from 1 July 2021, the grain passport will refer to Red II as the ‘recast Red’, and farmers will need to ensure their grain passport clearly references this when confirming compliance, with a dated and signed declaration.

Red Tractor chief executive Jim Moseley said that the new verification process would be drawn into the existing farm audit process, saying: “For the past 10 years most farmer members have been automatically compliant with the regulation under their Red Tractor assessment.”

This would continue under Red II and farmers would not face any extra cost, he said.

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