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Stackyard News Feb 06

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Creation of non-moorland SDA payment zone for SP was big mistake

Flat rate Single Payment figures for England for 2005 released by Defra last week confirm the folly of splitting farmed land into two separate payment bands and also show that the construction of three bands, Lowland, SDA and Moorland was unnecessary.


So says the National Beef Association which in February-April 2004 campaigned to persuade Defra to use the Moorland Line, not the SDA line, to divide England into just two payment zones but in the end was forced to accept the division of England into three zones using both the SDA line and the Moorland Line as boundaries.

“The NBA and its allies, which included the RSPB, RABDF and CAAV, argued that it made no sense whatsoever to use the SDA line to divide England into payment zones because there was too much heavily stocked, and cultivated, farmed land between it and moorland boundaries,” explained NBA chief executive, Robert Forster .

“We proposed that the Moorland Line, which was the obvious marker, should be used to indicate the end of farmed land and prevent vast overpayments on moorland that had carried very little stock.”

“However debate at the time was very much slanted by the thought that farmers in the lowland region below the SDA line would eventually receive £210-£230 per ha in flat rate payment in 2012 compared with an estimate of only £110-£130 in the non- moorland SDA zone and this persuaded lowland farmers in other organisations to close ranks and shut out the SDA case.”

But according to the NBA the official figures for 2012 demonstrate conclusively that this was a mistake and the case for just two zones, using the Moorland Line as the boundary, was overwhelmingly correct.

“Flat rate SP figures for 2012 of £191 per ha for lowland and £160 per ha for SDA confirm that fears of thinly stocked upland farms diverting heavy tranches of SP of heavily stocked lowland farms were unjustified,” said Mr Forster.

“Furthermore the very low payment of just £23 for land beyond the Moorland Line clearly shows that it was the obvious choice for a two zone boundary and that the creation of three zones is an unnecessary complication.”

“ However figures for all three zones confirm just how hard it will be for beef farmers in all regions to either increase income, or reduce costs, so they can make up the difference between their decidedly modest SP and previous heavy coupled subsidy payments.”

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National Beef Association