2015-09-24  

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DEFRA Drops the Ball with "Dual Use" Decision

The Tenant Farmers Association has criticised DEFRA’s decision to continue to allow two separate individuals to claim under different Common Agricultural Policy schemes on the same farm – a concept known as ‘dual use’.

TFA Chief Executive George Dunn said “DEFRA’s decision defies logic and will perpetuate injustice in the landlord tenant system. DEFRA really has dropped the ball here”.

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For some time EU Auditors have rightly been concerned about the legitimacy of allowing two separate individuals to use the same farmland at the same time to claim payments under different schemes.

The TFA has also been concerned that whilst there are some examples where dual use operates fairly as between landlord and tenant, in many others it provides an open door for landlords to exploit their dominant position to gain the benefits of agri-environment schemes without bearing any of the responsibilities.

“How can it be the case that on the one hand it is farm tenants who are deemed to have land at their disposal for the purposes of claiming under the new Basic Payment Scheme whilst their landlords can be deemed to have management control to allow them to have access to agri-environment schemes?

Only those who have the land at their disposal are properly able to deliver the necessary management control required for Countryside Stewardship,” said Mr Dunn.

“It will be interesting to see how this is received by the EU Auditors and whether this leaves England at a higher risk of disallowance and therefore having to pay back sums of money to the EU which have been wrongly paid out”, said Mr Dunn.

“The wider concern here is that increasingly we are losing the connection between support payments and active farmers. Food production in this country and across Europe relies upon taxpayer support. However, the move to area payments, the lack of a sensible active farmer test for eligibility to payments and now this decision on dual use means that increasingly the benefits of support are being received by landlords who are merely supplying an input to the food production process – land. We need complete reassessment of Government policy to ensure that active farmers producing food and looking after the natural environment are properly rewarded for their work,” said Mr Dunn.

“We have an old fashioned view in the TFA that the landlord’s legitimate return is rent, not from having access to schemes intended for the benefit of the farming community,” said Mr Dunn.

TFA

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