Leased SFP en­ti­tle­ments stuck in ¤40m ad­min­is­tra­tive strug­gle

Irish Independent - Farming - - News - Martin Ryan

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.

GREEN­ING

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

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