The Tenant Farmers Association has reacted angrily to the news that
Defra has decided to siphon off up to 19% of funds earmarked for
the farming community to pay for its other policy goals.
The siphon, known as modulation, has two elements; a compulsory element
of 5% which is set by the European Union and an additional discretionary
element which can be set by Member States up to an additional 15%.
In England, Ministers have decided to set the discretionary rate
at 12% in 2007 rising to 14% by 2009 which is far in excess of any
other Member State of the European Union.
George Dunn, Chief Executive of the Tenant Farmers Association said “It
is particularly galling that Defra Ministers have made this decision
since we are meant to be operating with other EU Member States within
a common framework. Defra's decision means that English farmers
will be penalised more heavily than others throughout Europe”.
Most other Member States of the Union have indicated that they will
only use the compulsory element of the modulation at 5%. The only
other Member State likely to use the discretionary element is Portugal
where over 90% of its farms are exempt from modulation due to their
small size. Northern Ireland has announced a modulation rate of 10%
“Even within the UK, English farmers will be at a competitive
disadvantage. Defra will claim that the money will be recycled within
the farming community through its suite of rural development schemes.
However, these schemes are increasingly difficult to get into and
are not cost-free to the farmer. Participants in the Higher Level
Stewardship Scheme, for example, are finding that in many cases the
cost of being within the Scheme outweighs the benefits of the payments
received. On top of that, as tenant farmers are required to have
their landlord's consent before entering the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, there is no guarantee that they will be able to participate.
I can only see that English farmers will lose out here” said
“The transition from farm based payments to more environmental
based payments was meant to be gradual. Defra has chosen to speed
up the process unnecessarily and coupled with its inability to deliver
farm payments on an efficient basis, will simply add further pain
to an already hurting farm community” said Mr Dunn.
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