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Claim forms are arriving for 2012
BY now all of you should have received your SP5 claim forms for the 2012 season – I know the pile on our office table is already several feet high. The good news is that the online software, at long last, looks both more useful and user-friendly than we have had before.
You should also have got a letter from the RPA with your PIN allowing you to access the system.
This is an extremely valuable tool for following the progress of your claim and has the added benefit of giving direct access to your claim statement.
If you use a professional to assist with your SP claim please let them have your PIN.
Do not forget the transfer deadline for entitlements this year will be Monday, April 2 and for any doubters, there is strong activity in the market place.
Non SDA entitlements have varied in value from £200 to £240 per hectare.
There is a lot of speculation as to whether the CAP reforms will be implemented in 2014 or have to be postponed for a further year, and this will clearly impact upon the future value of entitlements because there is the opportunity of another payment at the old rate.
Officially, there has been no indication that the official start date of January 1 2014 will be postponed, but looking at the processes yet to come there is little realistic chance of hitting the target.
We know that the EU budget was issued last June but is not likely to be settled between the 27 member states until this December.
After that, the main regulations need to be agreed which should take us to at least June 2013.
Thereafter, there is final session on settling the implementation rules which last time round took 10 months; and you will see that we are well beyond the 2014 start date.
However, we must all make our own minds up as to what is to happen.
Claim forms are arriving for 2012
Rule under the microscope
FOR a long time now we have been pressing for a change to the rule that requires a standstill on all farm animals when you bring fresh stock onto the farm.
The only exception is if you are sending direct to slaughter.
We have argued that the Scottish system is more workable whereby a building or small paddock is dedicated as an isolation area on each farm, leaving the rest of the stock free to move.
Unfortunately, the state vets are still fearful of committing themselves fully and have said they will only recommend a change when there are full national databases for all the species.
As the sheep database is still a year or two away, this is not good news. However, in the last couple of weeks there has been a softening of attitude and a statement that a scheme with industry-wide support could be considered.
The auctioneers are proposing that we have a pilot scheme for cattle which already has a workable database through BCMS. If successful, it can then be rolled out into the other species. If you get the opportunity to promote this idea please do so.
BBC programme on subsidy abuse
ON Monday evening, BBC’s Panorama investigated the abuse, or more correctly the exploitation, of the current farming subsidy system.
I would not defend those urban investors who acquire occupational rights over large areas of unproductive land in Scotland purely for the purpose of milking the Single Farm Payment.
However, let us be clear that it is a result of the system and nothing to do with the genuine need of farmers for support.
This practice wants stopping and the CAP reforms are proposing what will be know as an ‘active farmer’ test which should resolve the problem.
However, this type of sharp practice is totally different to the large payments made to large landowners which tend to offend purely because of scale.
There are 47 recipients of over a million pounds subsidy per annum and this does not sit comfortably when the landowners involved are already very wealthy men.
Again, in the new reform proposals there will be a cap on the amount to be received by any one applicant and this is going to be set at around £230,000.
The danger is that such a regulation will merely persuade the bigger farmers to divide and conquer by splitting their single holding into several smaller units.
We do not want to lose sight of the fact that most genuine farmers today could not make their books balance without the Single Farm Payment.
This is the message to get across now that we have 47 large landowners out of a 120,000 farmers.
Spread of Schmallenberg
THE spread of the Schmallenberg virus has risen dramatically over the past few days and there are now 121 cases confirmed in 18 counties, all of which run across the south of England where hopefully it will stay.
However, as we get into lambing time it is vital that we all report any potential signs of the disease, so keep a watch out for any problems.