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TFA National Chairman Calls for Breathing Space in 2008
19/12/07

The Tenant Farmers Association’s National Chairman, Reg Haydon, has called for all involved with farming including government, landlords, suppliers and retailers to allow 2008 to provide an opportunity for the farming industry to regroup after the disasters of 2007.

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Reg Haydon said “What farmers had to cope with in 2007 was unprecedented. Floods, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease created by our own government, bluetongue, avian flu, high fuel prices, high feed costs and high fertilizer costs have combined to leave farmers understandably punch-drunk in their wake. Of course there has been some light in the dairy and arable sectors with improved prices in both sectors. However, farm gate milk prices are still below the levels received by farmers ten years ago and all the while costs have been increasing and in the arable sector very few producers were able to reap the benefits of the high market prices for cereals this year as most grain was sold forward in deals done in 2006 for prices well below 2007 levels.”

Looking ahead to next year, there are two areas which are a major cause for concern for the tenanted sector – rent reviews and ever more regulation.

“After years of relative inactivity, rural landlords right across the country have been busy serving rent review notices on their tenant farmers in the expectation of achieving rent increases. Their agents have fuelled them with high expectations but whilst there might be a little room for manoeuvre on arable units, I really cannot see how any increase in rents can be justified elsewhere. Indeed in the red and white meat sectors rent reductions would be more in keeping with the economic situation they face. Therefore, I would urge landlords and their agents to act prudently and with restraint to avoid unnecessary and costly battles which will do little to benefit either party in the long-term,” said Mr Haydon.

“The government too must show restraint. There is a worrying queue of new regulation parked up on the slip road and ready to roll at the government’s behest. Included are new rules for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, new measures under the Water Framework Directive, a greater shifting of the burden of the costs of controlling animal diseases towards the industry, increased cross compliance under the Single Payment Scheme and new animal identification and movement rules; particularly the double-tagging of sheep. The analysis which underpins much of this new legislation is seriously flawed and the increased costs that they will bring will not be reflected in farm gate prices. The government must listen to the industry’s concerns on these issues rather than simply paying lip service to the process of consultation,” said Mr Haydon.

link Defra's Nitrate Proposals: All Pain With No Gain
link Bluetongue Vaccine Option Should Be Evaluated for Scotland and Wales
link Joint Disease Initiative Should First Tackle Government Inefficiency

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