Last Chance for Welsh Dairy Farmers

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Dairy farmers in Wales have until this Friday to apply for an aid scheme worth £1,800.

The EU Conditional Aid Scheme is only open to dairy farmers in Wales and, specifically, those that were in milk production with a supply contract on 1 January 2016.

To qualify before the deadline at midnight on Friday 30 June, producers need to complete an online questionnaire with information about their farm business. In return, farmers will receive the payment by the end of September as well as a report, prepared by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), identifying business strengths and weaknesses and a comparison against industry performance indicators.

The link for the questionnaire as well as more information can be found on the AHDB website.

Farms with land falling outside of Wales can still participate in the scheme if the majority of the land is in Wales.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

DEFRA Revises TIFF Estimate

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DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) has now published revised estimates which suggest Total Income From Farming (TIFF) in the UK fell by around 7.5% in 2016. This is significantly different from their original figure of 1.5% reported earlier in the year, with the Government blaming incorrect data accounting for the error in the previous estimate. The TIFF is calculated using income from farm production and subsidies, less costs.

The revised figures confirm the slump in the value of UK farm produce, resulting from falling production and poor prices for dairy and cereal farmers last year. This is perhaps surprising given that there had been some good news with improved productivity in the beef, sheep and pork sectors and the cost of fertilisers and feeds dropping. It seems, however that these factors were not enough to pull back the negative impact of falling revenues overall.

Despite income for farmers having dropped consecutively for the last 4 years, there is optimism that 2017 will see something of a recovery with commodity markets trending upwards at the present time.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Are You Opening Your Farm This Sunday?

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This Sunday, over 1,500 farmers across the UK will be opening their farms for visitors as part of Open Farm Sunday. Although some people are still unaware of what “Open Farm Sunday” is, its widespread appeal cannot be denied. Since its inception in 2006 farmers have welcomed 1.8 million visitors to their farms for one Sunday each year.

Organised by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), it seeks to encourage farmers to open their farms up to members of the public for a day to share the farm experience.  Farmers are encouraged to plan events that are manageable and should be reminded that they need not put on an extravagant show for hundreds of people.  Activities may include a farm walk, nature trail, tractor and trailer rides, demonstrations, pond dipping, activities for children, a mini farmer’s market or farm shop.

LEAF offer free help and support, including access to local coordinators, practical support and advice regarding issues such as health and safety.

The event gives farmers a great opportunity to share their enthusiasm for farming and offers potential business benefits too, with the opportunity for farms to raise their local profile and improve community relations.

If you would like to find out more about Open Farm Sunday you can log on to: www.farmsunday.org

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

 

Farmers to Sway General Election?

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As a farmer, it appears that the three main political groups are out to get your vote.

The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have all recently released their manifestos including a multitude of pledges which will affect farmers across the country. One thing that all three agree on is that Brexit will have a massive impact upon farming businesses.

The Conservatives say they have “huge ambitions for the farming industry. We are determined to grow more, sell more and export more great British food”.

Labour feel that they are the only party that will “prioritise a sustainable, long-term future for farming, fishing and food industries”.

The Liberal Democrats highlight the importance of a strong deal by suggesting that a bad Brexit deal will “turn Britain into a regressive, isolated and inconsequential nation.”

With just over two weeks until Britain will take to the polls, which of the parties will be best equipped to take the country through Brexit with the strongest deals in place remains to be seen. However with them all fighting for your vote, farmers may yet have a big say in the outcome of the general election on 8 June.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Will Brexit Affect the Value of Your Farmland?

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Fears have been expressed by some land agents that agricultural land prices may fall in the UK, as a direct result of Brexit.

It is expected that the amount of subsidies, such as the Basic Payment Scheme, will decline once Britain leaves the EU, causing some farmers to re-consider their financial position.  Many are already struggling to make ends meet and a reduction in subsidy support, combined with a predicted interest-rate rise for borrowing, may result in many being forced to leave the industry.

As a consequence the demand for farmland could fall away, with the price per hectare dropping by as much as £1,000, despite it having remained fairly robust so far, at an average of around £7,500 for bare land.

However, even the experts admit it is difficult to predict the full impact of Brexit, with so many other factors coming into play, such as trade tariffs, pricing and food imports.  Post-referendum predictions of economic doom and gloom have not yet come to pass, so those in the industry would be wise not to panic at this stage.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

24 Hours In Farming

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From 5am on 10 August to 5am on 11 August 2017, “24 hours in Farming” is back supported by FG Insight and Morrisons.  The aim of the event is for UK Agriculture to “shout about the industry and why they are so proud to work within it” and to show consumers how much passion and commitment goes into producing the food they eat.  Last year the event reached an audience of 112 million and trended in the Top 5 on Twitter all day.

You can get involved by posting photos and videos on any social media platform using the hashtag #Farm24 to let people know what you are doing that day.  This year, the event organisers are trying to make it bigger and better than last year by encouraging farmers to also host on-farm events, give talks to local groups or arrange interviews with local newspapers or radio stations.

If you are planning on opening your doors to the public, you can click this link to find a quick guide on how to get organised.

Another Welsh Council Joins Chinese Lantern Ban

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Farmers in South East Wales will be relieved to hear that Torfaen has now joined the list of councils in Wales to ban Chinese Lanterns. The paper lanterns have become increasingly popular over the last 10 years and are often released into the night skies to mark a celebration or commemorate a special event.

Working on the same principle as a hot-air balloon, the lantern carries a small quantity of propellant which, when ignited, forces it up into the air where it travels until the paper is all burnt away.  Whilst they make quite a breath-taking spectacle when released en masse, they have become a nightmare for farmers and other livestock owners.

Once the lantern itself has been consumed, the wire framework falls to earth and there have been numerous incidents of cattle ingesting the small wires where the debris has landed where they graze.  The wires are like fine needles and difficult to spot and as they cannot be seen going through cropping machines, they can also end up in cattle feed, causing severe injuries to livestock.

Fragments of the burning lanterns can also break away, and there have been occasions where they have landed on hay barns, with potentially disastrous consequences.  Some farmers have even been forced to carry out routine patrols to look out for lanterns being released.

Wildlife is also affected with many birds and smaller animals become entangled or injured by the lanterns, and RSPCA Cymru has been campaigning for several years against their use.  They are now calling on the Welsh Government to make people more aware of the damage caused and so help to bring a nationwide ban a step nearer.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Reminder for those claiming under Glastir Small Grants Scheme

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Participants under the Carbon theme of Glastir Small Grants Scheme have until 31st March 2017 to complete works and submit their claims online.

Claims need to be submitted via the Rural Payments Wales (RPW) Online facility. Geotagged photographs will be used to validate the claim showing the project location before the commencement and after completion of the Works.

Further information is available on the Welsh Government website here.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

HMRC, The Dairy Farmer & The Disallowed Loss

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The recent case of B and R Scambler v HMRC (TC4842) reinforces HMRC’s refusal to accept farming loss claims where they deem that the farm is not being run on a commercial basis. And there are many cases of this nature going to Tribunal.

Assuming all criteria is satisfied, self-employment losses can be offset against other income received in the year. This is known as sideways loss relief and is available to Farmers.

This loss relief is unavailable however, where a farming business has made losses in five consecutive tax years, known quite succinctly as ‘the Five Year rule’. In this instance the farmer cannot offset losses incurred in the sixth or subsequent years until there is another profit, unless he can show that “a competent person carrying out the activities at the beginning of the prior period of loss could not have reasonably expected the activities to become profitable until after the end of the current tax year.”

Mr & Mrs Scambler, who made losses from 2005/06 through to 2010/11, could not identify a specific reason why profits could not be made during these years, despite running the business competently. Their claim that the milk price was unpredictable was not thought to be sufficient justification, and they were therefore denied sideways loss relief for 2010/11.

If you would like to discuss this further please contact Green & Co.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Welsh Pigs Bringing Home The Bacon

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Pork from traditionally reared Pedigree Welsh Pigs has been awarded special status from the European Commission. Becoming the first of its kind in Wales, the pork has been granted Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TSG) status.

The new status means that pedigree Welsh pork can be produced anywhere in Europe, as long as the animals are pedigree and registered with the British Pig Association or similar.

Producers that use the TSG designation are encouraged to join the Pedigree Welsh Pig Society, who can offer help and support and help ensure that the traditional methods and high standards are kept.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.