Leased SFP entitlements stuck in ¤40m administrative struggle
LEASED Single Farm Payment (SFP) entitlements are in a €40m quagmire of administrative, legal, financial, and tax uncertainties, the outcome of which will determine their survival, it has been claimed by experts in the advisory sector.
The extent of the challenge facing farmers with leased out SFP entitlements and those with leased in entitlements was highlighted at the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) annual conference at Carrigaline, Cork on Friday. A final settlement of the issue must be resolved by May 14, delegates were told.
Senior Department of Agriculture official Paud Evans told the conference clarity on some aspects of the treatment of leased entitlements remained to be agreed both at State and EU level.
In a presentation on the finer details of the CAP reform he urged farmers who have leased their SFP entitlements to discuss the matter with their professional advisors so that the entitlements are not ‘lost’ to both the leasee and leasor by May 15 of this year.
He warned that the situation is particularly serious for those who did not use their entitlements in 2013. In addition to the entitlements under lease, there were 75,000 SFP entitlements which were not used in 2013, Mr Evans told the conference.
Private legal contracts between the leasee and leasor of SFP entitlements are understood to be acceptable within the regulations, but the tax treatment of such legal/financial arrangements had not been agreed by Revenue, Mr Evans said.
He said that for most livestock farmers the ‘greening’ requirement for CAP reform should not present a challenge, but he maintained that meeting the criteria could be more complex for tillage farmers. He said tillage farmers would need to plan very carefully for greening.
A printed guide, setting out the detail of the new scheme, with templates from which most farmers could determine how they will be affected, is expected to go to press within days, and would be circulated immediately to all farmers.
ICMSA president, John Comer, said there was growing concern among farmers over the continuing delays in finalising and publishing the final details of the CAP package.
“There is a serious information deficit in relation to the new regime that needs t o be addressed immediately so that informed decisions can be made by farmers. It is not acceptable t hat farmers are making decisions for future years in t hi s ki nd of information vacuum,” Mr Comer said.
He claimed the ICMSA had received conflicting advice and information about how the new system would operate and how it would impact on farmers.
“Farmers want to know what gains or losses they are likely to incur as soon as possible so that they can make f uture investment decisions and avoid disastrous consequences,” the ICMSA leader said.
“The uncertainty surrounding land leasing is exacerbating the problems and the minister needs to spell out the options available to farmers in this situation.
“This issue affects family leases, farmers who formed companies and non-family leases, and approximately €40m is at stake,” Mr Comer added.
“These farmers find themselves in this difficulty due to no fault of theirs, and the Department – and the Department of Finance – need to ensure that this issue can be addressed with no unexpected and unfair tax implications,” he insisted. IT LOOKS like the market for malting barley should remain strong if Irish whiskey sales in the US are anything to go by.
Sales grew by 17.5pc or by €20m in 2013, while high-end premium Irish whiskey recorded even stronger growth with sales up by more than 20pc.
Anna Power of Bord Bia pointed out that sales of Irish whiskey grew by almost three times the market average of just over 6pc.
Total sales of Irish whiskey in the US should top €140m in 2013, according to the latest figures from Bord Bia and the CSO. This would equate to an almost doubling of total sales in value terms since 2010. Sales of Irish whiskey in the US were worth €70m in 2010 but grew to €122m in 2012. MORE than 700 farmers sought information on the returns available from planting land at this year ’s Teagasc forestr y advisory clinics.
“The success of this year’s clinics was due to the significant interest in planting among farmers. The attractive incentives currently available and an everincreasing demand for timber mean that a forest enterprise is becoming an increasingly attractive option for more and more landowners,” said Dr Nuala Ní Fhlatharta, head of Teagasc’s forestry division.
“Issues that were discussed regularly during the clinics included the Single Farm Payment, grants and premiums, eligibility for farmer premium, interaction with other farming schemes, environmental restrictions as well as financial benefits and implications,” said Teagasc forestry advisor Noel Kennedy.
MEETING OF MINDS: The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, at the ACA annual conference at Carrigaline with Paddy Bruton, Kilkenny, Mike Brady and William Kelly, Carlow