The Tenant Farmers Association has said it is unacceptable that English livestock farmers should be saddled with the full costs of having to install new slurry storage capacity on their farms following DEFRA's announcement on new rules for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs).
TFA National Chairman Greg Bliss said "It is regrettable that in the way it is written, the Nitrates Directive gives EU Member States very little room for manoeuvre. However, it is unacceptable that the Government should be requiring English livestock farmers to erect the new slurry storage capacity required by the Directive without any grant aid. Other parts of the UK, not least Northern Ireland and Scotland, have offered grant assistance to their livestock producers in this respect. English farmers have a legitimate reason for feeling that they have been discriminated against. The TFA estimates that, on average, dairy farmers, in particular, will have to spend around £50,000 per farm in erecting new slurry stores. This is a significant capital outlay which cannot, in our view, be justified in terms of the profitability of the industry. The TFA will continue to argue that grant aid must be paid”.
Tenant farmers with tenancies governed by the 1986 Agricultural Holdings Act may be able to require their landlords to install the necessary fixed equipment required for the new statutory standards. However, we are concerned that landlords may not have the financial capacity to cope with the degree of investment necessary across their estates and also tenants on newer Farm Business Tenancies have no option but to find the finance themselves.
"We have already discussed this with major landlords and with the Country Land and Business Association. We are agreed that there are many more important investment requirements, particularly on dairy holdings, than unnecessary slurry storage capacity. However, without any grant assistance and with a new legal requirement, the Government has really left us high and dry" said Mr Bliss.
In other respects the TFA believes that the Government has taken a pragmatic approach to the implementation of the Directive.
"It is immensely disappointing that despite the Government taking on board many of the industry's practical concerns on the Directive that it has fallen short on what we believe to be a fundamental issue which will cause major hardship for all English livestock and dairy holdings particularly in the tenanted sector. We will continue to push for grant to be paid," said Mr Bliss.
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