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Jeremy's Blog 18/9/2020: The New Regime

18 September 2020

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 17th September 2020.

As the Agriculture Bill enters its final straight, ministers have talked of the next steps in creating England’s post-Brexit regime, stressing productivity as interlinked with “public goods”: “our natural resources essential for food production”.

A major series of statements and consultations are to come towards the end of the year with:

  • the plan for the coming schemes giving “further information on funding for the early years of agricultural transition period” and so some of the phasing out of BPS
  • a consultation on the delinking of BPS and lump sum payments
  • a consultation on regulatory enforcement.

Productivity grants are to assist investment in equipment, technology and infrastructure from 2021.

ELMS and schemes for animal welfare and plant health are to buy change to meet six aims from the 25 Year Environment Plan: “clean air, clean and plentiful water, thriving plants and wildlife, reduction in and protection from environmental hazards such as flooding, adaptation to and mitigation of climate change and beauty, heritage and engagement with the environment”.  Those being wider than Countryside Stewardship (for which farmers will be able to apply until 2023), a “stepping-stone” (“Sustainable Farming Incentive”?) towards ELMS Tier 1 has been mooted, perhaps for matters like soils and nutrients. 

ELMS Tier 1 is to be for environmentally sustainable farming, Tier 2 to buy change in land use and Tier 3 for wider scale landscape management and collaboration.  The latter two would be more geared to local priorities, perhaps following the Environment Bill’s Local Nature Recovery Strategies which may also inform planning policies and the use of biodiversity net gain.

So far as ELMS might pay usefully, that is the carrot, paying for public goods that are above the stick of the regulatory baseline which could rise.  The force of cross compliance will wane with BPS but much is in legislation.  Penalties may become more proportionate but standards may be strengthened and the consultation may review “other possible levers that we could use to encourage more effective industry compliance”.

Farmers will need advice: “I reiterate the Government’s view that expert advice and guidance is critical to the successful delivery of future schemes”.  DEFRA proposes to use the Bill’s ability to fund the provision of advice, guidance and other support.  40 tests and trials include this and “ways in which skills and qualifications in environmental land management can be improved” showing that advice “must be trusted, consistent, credible and cost effective”.

Metaldehyde to be banned from 2022

18 September 2020

The Government has announced that metaldehyde - most commonly used to control slugs - is to be banned for both commercial and domestic outdoor use from March 2022. Sales of metaldehyde will be prohibited after 31st March 2021. The statement by Farming Minister Victoria Prentis can be found on the GOV.uk website.

ICAEW Farming and Rural Business Conference 2020

18 September 2020

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales is holding a virtual Farming and Rural Business Conference on 29th and 30th September 2020. The keynote speaker is Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, and the cost for non-members is £100+VAT. Details and booking are available via the ICAEW website.  

Welsh Government funding for the countryside

14 September 2020

The Welsh Government has made £7.4 million available for improving access to the countryside, investing in green infrastructure and improving sustainability. The funds will be awarded to National Parks, AONBs and Local Authorities. Further details can be found on the Welsh Government website.

Jeremy's Blog 11/09/20: Deal or No-deal?

11 September 2020

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 10th September 2020.

We are now 16 weeks to the end of the EU transition period.  If a deal is to be in place for 1st January, it needs substantial agreement by mid-October.   This week has highlighted the possibility that the negotiating mandates preclude a deal acceptable to both the UK and the EU.  Aside from fisheries, the major problems are understood to lie around the relationship between future UK rules and evolving EU ones, notably around state aid for business (with the Government anxious about the technology sector).  That could be overcome by political decisions in the next few days and does not exclude a deal next year or later.   Meanwhile, the Government is said to have modelled the situation where no deal coincides with a Covid peak and flooding. 

Separately, issues with the agreed framework of the Northern Ireland Protocol include:

  • the paperwork and potential tariffs for goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland – 750,000 tonnes of feed grain, second-hand machinery from auctions and livestock medicines.
  • how “unfettered access” to Great Britain for goods from Northern Ireland might work while ensuring that the province is not a back door from the EU to the UK
  • the interaction between the rules for Northern Ireland and UK state aid.

The Government has now controversially proposed powers to help manage some of the issues.

No deal means tariffs: for wheat, £79/t on imports and €95/t on exports to the EU.   With a poor harvest but good milling quality, more barley, access to maize and some retention of flour that would go to Ireland, this might be less significant than it looks but some export trade might be brought forward.   Measures appear to be in mind for disruption to the lamb trade.

Previous deadlines saw much no deal planning.  That will not mean all issues have been identified or managed.  As before, it seems prudent for a farm or other business to think, for January and then the first quarter of 2021 what it would feel silly not to have done, from spare parts to sales.  Deal or not, tariffs or not, those trading with the EU will need to manage customs and other paperwork while issues may range from heat-treated pallets to containers with several consignments. 

It would be helpful for CAAV work with Government to hear from members where their work highlights possible practical challenges to business continuity.       

The Prince's Farm Resilience Programme 2020

09 September 2020

The Prince's Countryside Fund has opened registration for the Prince's Farm Resilience Programme 2020. The Programme enables family farm businesses to access free business skills and environmental training to help improve business viability. More detail can be found on the PCF website where there is a link to register interest in taking part.

£11.5 billion for affordable homes in England

08 September 2020

England's Housing Minister Robert Jenrick has announced £11.5 billion of new funding for affordable homes in England which is intended to deliver 180,000 homes in the period to 2026. The homes will be a mix of tenures, including a new Shared Ownership model and affordable rented property. Further information can be found on the GOV.UK website

CAAV adopts technology to drive agriculture’s future

07 September 2020

Embracing technological advancements will be a major element in progressive farming in the coming years, and the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV) is arming its members with the tools to help. 

Speaking at the virtual CAAV AGM and conference on 3 September, incoming president, Andrew Thomas, said the end of this year will hail a big transition for the rural sector. “There are huge changes ahead for our members and clients, whether we end up on World Trade Organisation terms or an EU-UK trade deal is reached,” he explained. 

“The aim in the coming months will be to keep our members fully briefed so that they and their clients are ready to act whatever the outcome. Embracing new skills and technologies is a big part of the agenda as we need to be on the front foot to help farmers successfully transition towards a very different agricultural landscape.” 

Mr Thomas is the fifth CAAV president to hail from the South Wales and Monmouthshire branch and heads Herbert R Thomas, a multi-discipline company started by his grandfather. Having held several official CAAV roles over the years, he has extensive experience in the industry.

In the theme of embracing advancing technology, Simon Pearson, director of the Lincoln Institute of Agri-Food Technology, addressed the conference on robotics in farming. “Agri-robotics will be transformational,” he predicted. “Agriculture is one of the hardest areas of robotics to work in because of all the skills the robots need to perform just one task, but there is lots of research going on.” 

Advancing technology is also prevalent in the form of genetic improvements, as Jonathan Clarke, head of business development at the John Innes Institute, explained. “Technology is one of the tools to advance our research in genetics, genomics and plant growth. There is a new revolution coming, driven by two key changes; the ability to be precise and a rapid acceleration in producing new crop varieties.”

The role CAAV members play in informing clients on industry changes like these is a vital one, added Mr Thomas. “Our breadth of knowledge and continued professional development means we are ideally positioned to support the industry during these challenging times.”

Sharing knowledge among agricultural professionals is an important element to drive the industry forward, said Lee Baker at AMC, chief sponsor of the event. “In 24 years of sponsoring the conference, there has never been a year quite like 2020, but it’s really important to continue to provide support for such a dynamic industry and be a part of its future progression.”

Helping with this progression will be Andrew Coney, partner at P Wilson and Co, in Preston, Lancashire, who served several roles within the CAAV before taking on the role of senior vice president. “I look forward to working as part of the presidential team and with them I will continue to represent, promote and develop the CAAV for the benefit of its membership,” he said.

Incoming junior vice president, Simon Alden, is a director at Adkin in Oxfordshire and is an RICS registered valuer. “The CAAV has shaped my career, from the rigorous training to the outstanding technical information and support it provides,” he said. “I am honoured to serve as part of the presidential team and in particular I am looking forward to visiting local associations when that is allowed to happen.”

Up and coming young valuers were also recognised at the AGM, with the prestigious Talbot Ponsonby prize for the highest marks in the CAAV exams awarded to Annabel Hollis. Hailing from a family farm in Staffordshire, Ms Hollis has been a keen member of young farmers and attained a first-class honours in Rural Enterprise and Land Management at Harper Adams University, and a masters in Law from the University of Law, Birmingham. This autumn she will begin a two-year training contract at Michelmores in Exeter.

NEW PODCAST on Tomorrow’s Business – Land, Valuation, Technology and People

07 September 2020

Tomorrow’s Business was the theme of the CAAV’s first ever Virtual National Conference. In this episode, Jeremy Moody shares the highlights from the conference and summarises the key points from each of the speakers.

Also available on AppleSpotify and Google Podcasts

Catch-up on previous episodes here

Jeremy's Blog 3rd September 2020: Farming Productivity and Business Change

04 September 2020

 
This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 3rd September 2020.

Most of farming faces the same economic problems as it faced before the pandemic.  The poor harvest emphasises the concerns about poor cash flow as farming goes into 2021, facing whatever may come as the EU transition period ends.
 
That draws attention to the long run issues of poor profitability and productivity growth that might now be tackled more effectively.   Recent DEFRA data show that barely half of cereals and grazing farms achieve £100 of outputs from £100 of inputs, even including subsidy, agri-environment and other income.  Without those, the bottom quartile of grazing livestock farms turns that £100 of inputs into £47 of outputs; with them it is £73.  Annual productivity growth since 2000 is reported as fallen to 0.7 per cent.
 
Averages (even of quartiles) mask wide ranges of real performance.  On a larger view across farming where subsidy seems associated with poorer profitability:

  • 35 per of UK output by value is from sectors with negligible or no subsidy
  • 33 per cent of output by value is from sectors for which Basic Payment is 6 or 7 per cent of produce sales. 

The CAP’s historic role as a corn and horn policy leaves subsidy focused on that remaining third of value but most of the land area, perhaps implying future questions about the balance between farming and land management. Nonetheless, in all sectors and areas, good farmers have much better performances, turning on skills, management and timeliness. 
 
Existing regimes have managed decline to the present point with area-based payments since 1993 holding back the economic change that might remedy this, including access for new entrants.  The number of farmers has reduced as the logic of commodity production sees remaining income divided between fewer people and so fewer opportunities for challenge.  The phasing out of BPS in England is at the centre of a generation’s change concentrated into the coming decade.        
 
With the question being who will farm what land how, the challenge is to make that change positive, achieving good businesses winning and holding better margins in tomorrow’s markets, probably with more looking beyond commodities.  Something will lie in the design of new schemes, more in other policies.  Alongside improving skills, investment and innovation, we need wider markets in land occupation and use; the further positive evidence from Ireland’s Income Tax relief for letting farmland shows one way to change the game.  Openness to business change is one pre-requisite for a positive answer to the real challenge.

Jeremy's Blog 27/8/2020: Valuations under the Electronic Communications Code

28 August 2020

With the long, fraught arguments over telecommunications masts, the last fortnight has doubled the number of Tribunal decisions on valuation, developing a picture of what Tribunals consider to be the main arguments.  CTIL v Fothringham (in the Lands Tribunal for Scotland) follows EE v Islington in considering the rent for a new Code agreement.  Vodafone v Hanover considers the rent on the renewal of a lease protected by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (CTIL v Ashloch having decided that such renewals are under the Act, not the Code).  The Tribunal’s comments in CTIL v Compton Beauchamp cast light on methods of tackling the Code’s statutory valuation requirements.

While the eye is naturally drawn to the rents awarded in the three cases that did so, this note offers some brief initial observations on the underlying messages which may frame future work.     

One understanding is to see these decisions as about value, not price.  The negotiations before December 2017, almost untouched in practice by the old Code, may have created a sense that a 15m rural mast was likely to have a rent of £5-6,000, more or less a standard price.  These Tribunal decisions are more specific to the site and circumstances of each case: changes in those may give different figures.

The agreement’s terms have to be settled for it to be valued.  Its handling of the site provider’s costs and any compensation for potential loss or damage is likely to matter.  The more that the site provider has recourse under the agreement (or a Tribunal awarded the Code agreement), the less the issue might for the rent.  Hanover also turned on the 10 year term and lack of a rent review provision.

The nature of the market for the site matters.  That is not just its existing or alternative use value; Hanover shows that evidence of competing interest from operators could be relevant.

The Tribunal is interested in the nature and behaviour of “willing” parties, especially a “willing seller”.  Evidence of the impact on a site provider of an operator on site is potentially material for both Paragraph 24’s valuation of the agreement between the parties and a market rent on renewal.   The operators’ “pro rata” approach has been consistently rejected, notably in Compton Beauchamp and Fothringham; deriving a nominal value from large transactions is not seen as credible. 

While the mists might seem to clear a little, new cases see increasing contention over experts and appeals are expected on Compton Beauchamp and Ashloch.  We might not be clear of storms.

Covid-19 ban on evictions in England extended by 4 weeks

21 August 2020

The Government has extended the temporary ban on evictions from dwellings in England, which was due to end this Sunday, by a further four weeks and introduced a new requirement for notices to be at least 6 months in duration. Further detail is available on the GOV.UK website.

Jeremy's Blog 21st August 2020: The Use of Algorithms

21 August 2020

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 20th August 2020.

Algorithm – a set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operation.
 
While as simple as that, a word more used in computing than the pub has been thrust into daylight by the attempt to give examination grades without holding examinations.  An algorithm is simply a tool, depending on how data are selected and assumptions about how they are handled.  It can only be as good as those factors allow; it is not magic.
 
Algorithms are everywhere, especially with the growing reliance on digital systems and are increasingly met in professional work.  Automated Valuation Mechanisms are one example, whether for mass valuations as for local taxation or conventional residential mortgage lending.
 
Such systems can seem a “black box”, risking giving weight to an answer when we might not know how the data are selected or handled to give an answer.  The answer, whether property valuation or examination grade, is no more or less impressive than those issues – and not just to be given credit because it is a “black box”.
 
The problems with this year’s examination grades, hidden in complexity, seem to have included that they:

  • were based on schools, not actual individuals
  • did not take enough account of the detail of GCSE data
  • gave more weight to teachers’ views for small groups with their greater statistical variation
  • meant a really good pupil could not escape a school that had performed poorly.

As a statistical exercise, the arithmetic could perhaps even be right overall but not right for individuals and bedevilled by lack of transparency.
 
With property:

  • automated property valuations might, with the right data, be fair overall for a portfolio but with wide variations at property level.  A lender with a large book might feel supported; an individual borrower might feel at risk.
  • the Scottish discussion of a budget-based approach to farm rent reviews has looked for a mechanical process of arithmetic when they require appraisal and judgement, not formulae imposing answers on varied situations. 

 
Just because an answer comes from a computer does not make it right.  Whether using such answers, commenting on them or advising clients about them, we will need the skills and confidence to be clear about how they are achieved and the common sense to see where they do not work.  Possibly servants, they are neither magic nor masters.  The same sense check is needed as for a valuation.

Jeremy's Blog 13/08/20: A Radical Shock for Planners?

14 August 2020

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 13th August 2020.

The proposals in the two planning consultation papers issued last week for England appear to be a genuinely radical shock for the system.  They go much further than the zoning proposals of the headlines, shaking the 70 year old foundations of planning and what local planning authorities do.

Focussed on housing, rather than other development, the force of the proposals lies in their approach to housing demand.  With 300,000 new dwellings a year seen as needed since at least the 2004 Barker Report, the Government would now set binding housing numbers for each LPA, when local plans currently provide for some 187,000 and last year saw some 241,000 built (including those under permitted development rights).  That is a substantial increase in the numbers to be provided for.

Allocating that between LPAs is now to take significant account of house prices – the market’s barometer of demand and so where would-be occupiers would like housing to be.  The current system has been criticised for disregarding that, so adding to the affordability problem requiring more counter-measures.

The measure used for this will be house prices as a multiple of incomes of those who work in each area in question.  Where this multiple is more than 4, that will lead to more houses being expected to be provided.  That will be the case for large areas of the country. 

Those figures will drive the areas that each LPA will have to identify in its new local plan as Growth, Renewal and Protection areas.  It is not suggested that the figures will be for substantive argument though interesting to see how LPAs will approach the politics of selecting Growth Areas.  With legislation and then 30 months for plan making, that suggests the new regime might just be in place in 2024.

In at least Growth Areas, that zoning will be the planning permission for all development that meets the design requirements that the LPAs will set, drawing on the work of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.  That will be their new role, not deciding permissions.

Finally, CIL and much of s.106 obligations are to be replaced by a nationally-set Infrastructure Levy on the final capital value of the development before occupation above threshold to protect lower value development.  We wait to see how this might fit with biodiversity net gain.

This is the start; we wait to see how well that structure survives the reaction.

England: Planning White Paper 2020

06 August 2020

The Government has published its planning White Paper: Planning for the Future. A public consultation runs until 29th October 2020. 

England: The Getting Building Fund

04 August 2020

The Government has released details of hundreds of projects which will be supported by the £900 million Getting Building Fund in England, including housing development, regeneration schemes, education and healthcare projects. The projects will be delivered through LEPs and details can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Secretariat - Alice De Soer

31 July 2020

Alice De Soer is leaving the Secretariat at the end of Friday, 31st July. 

We thank her for her work in that capacity over the years, for which she was recognised by the award of the CAAV’s Kenneth Glenny Prize in 2015, and wish her well for the future.

Calls and e-mails regarding her work areas should come to the Secretariat at Harts Barn Farmhouse.

Consideration is being given to the skills and dispositions that might now be needed in the Secretariat.

 

Jeremy's Blog 30th July 2020: Agricultural Policy in England

31 July 2020

Jeremy's Blog 30th July 2020

The New Agricultural Policy in England is Coming

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 30/7/20

The reality of the new English agricultural policy, outside the EU, is imminent.  Ministers are adamant that the first cut in Basic Payment will start the transition period in 2021, seeing new policies phased in.   With more detail promised in an autumn statement, that seven year process was again outlined in the Government’s replies to the House of Lords Committee stage on the Agriculture Bill.   That reality, with much other prospective change, underlay the CAAV’s successful Business Review event on Monday.

 

DEFRA Minister, Lord Gardiner, set out the basic argument:

“While direct payments currently form an important contribution to income on many farms in England, we believe that they can hamper productivity growth in the agricultural sector. That is why, within the sum that will be released, that money will be diverted into countryside stewardship and productivity grants so that farmers can start, through their business interests, to take advantage of the money that will move from direct payments into these other areas of support.”  (House of Lords, 21st July, Cols 2083-84)

From 2021 productivity grants will aid equipment or infrastructure, adding value to existing products, creating new products or making products available directly to customers.  ELM and other schemes follow later.

 

Basic Payment is itself to change.  All greening, with crop diversification and EFAs, is now dropped for English 2021 applications with the money added to the Basic Payment.   Created as an environmental justification for the Basic Payment, essentially bearing on arable farmers, EU auditors reported in 2017 that “As currently implemented, it is unlikely to enhance the CAP’s environmental and climate performance significantly”, or justify the significant complexity added to the CAP.  England’s environmental emphasis is on Countryside Stewardship and the prospective ELM policy. 

 

Basic Payment is time-limited for England.  Lord Gardiner told the Lords that:

“When delinked payments are introduced, they will replace the current basic payment scheme entirely and for all farmers. The basic payment scheme and delinked payments cannot and will not coexist. … we may wish to move away from the current approach of making a single payment per year and issue payments more frequently instead” (21st July, Cols 2085-86)

 

Elsewhere, elections will see legislation for Wales after 2021 and for Northern Ireland after 2022.  Scotland, seeking to stay close to EU policies, may now consider whether it too will drop crop diversification.

 

With these changes now moving, businesses need to prepare.

National Food Strategy - Part One

29 July 2020

Part One of the National Food Strategy has been published and can be found at https://www.nationalfoodstrategy.org/

Jeremy's Blog 23rd July 2020: Environmental Policy

24 July 2020

Jeremy's Blog 23/07/2020

Environmental Policy

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 23rd July 2020

George Eustice, DEFRA Secretary of State, has consistently argued that the opportunity of Brexit is to “do policy better”.  As developing post-Brexit policies and the emerging post-Covid policies blend, he has now set this argument out for environmental policy.  Those concerned with the management of rural land should see the scale of the ambition for such issues as biodiversity, water quality and air quality.

Seeing the policies inherited from the EU as focused on preservation and protection, even the management of decline, he offered a new emphasis:

“But there is no point leaving the EU to keep everything the same. The old model has not stopped the decline in our natural world. We must therefore challenge ourselves to think creatively, to innovate and to consciously avoid clinging to processes and procedures just because they are familiar. On environmental policy, we can do better or differently …”

Still within the same high-level international conventions as the EU, the UK could now develop policies directly tailored to domestic circumstances, not compromises haggled in the EU’s Council of Ministers.  It need no longer be cautious about the legal risks of new initiatives or approaches as when trammelled by supra-national legislation, Commission supervision, EU auditors and penalties.  No longer able to hide behind EU law, this freedom to act would bring new responsibilities.

The ambition is that:

“if we really want to realise the aspirations that the public have for nature then we need policies that will not only protect but that will build back – with more diverse habitats that lead to a greater abundance of those species currently in decline”

with this change lying at the heart of the new farming policy, biodiversity net gain in planning and other initiatives.

With the Prime Minister’s “build, build, build” speech criticising “newt counting delays”, George Eustice proposed at least for England:

  • establishing “an accurate, centralised body of data on species populations”
  • then setting out which habitats and species were “off limit” and
  • “front load” ecological considerations into the planning system in a changed approach to environmental assessment and mitigation in the planning system.

The Environment Bill, with the Office for Environmental Protection, also brings the opportunity to set our own definitions of such international standards as the precautionary principle.  Such decisions, challenging the status quo, will frame policies, opportunities and land management for a generation.  This is definitely a space to be watched.

Jeremy's Blog 16/07/20 - Economics and taxation

17 July 2020

Jeremy's Blog 16/07/2020

Economics and Taxation

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 16th July 2020.

We have this year seen parts of the modern economy unravel, enormous injections of public money to support continuity, the acceleration of business change and the possibility of working with virus restrictions for some time to come.  The response to that has been to focus on re-growing the economy and unlocking productivity improvement in the wider economy. 

With a probably smaller economy next year, there may be little scope for tax rises and perhaps less for further cuts in public spending to handle next year’s probable deficit.  Encouraging growth will need investment and innovation, using the currently low cost of finance.  Part of that will be the large and growing government infrastructure programme, improving connectivity and the earning capacity of the economy (with the associated compulsory purchase work).  Private business and investment will also be critical in what will be needed for the economy and for climate change. 

This week has seen a knee jerk response to the announcement of the Office of Tax Simplification’s review of Capital Gains Tax, its first specific review of CGT in its 10 years of work.  It follows a review of Inheritance Tax which began in January 2018 and looks like a routine process for a tax with complexities that, much changed over the years, has perhaps never really found its shape.  The CAAV will be submitting evidence and the review seems unlikely to report before well into next year.   

Like Inheritance Tax, CGT’s yield of £9bn (1 per cent of tax receipts) is small beside the issues at stake, but its influence on investment by unincorporated businesses and individuals is substantial.  The headline rate of 20 per cent is near to that thought to maximise revenue, so increasing the rate would risk reducing disposals and tax revenue, friction for an economy that needs to change.  It seems at least as plausible that this announcement is timed to prompt disposals to drive activity than that it is a “starting pistol” for tax rises.

The flexibility allowing the new economy to emerge could require radical change, with some of the first signs of that with the changes coming to development control policy in England.  Farming will see change driven by the loss of Basic Payment and possible trade pressure.  The Treasury can earn more money and achieve more economic change if CGT does not stand in the way of the associated transactions.  Those gains could be worth more than an apparent general increase in CGT. 

 

Jeremy's Blog 9th July 2020: Dispute Resolution

10 July 2020

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 9th July 2020.

Much of members’ work is about advising and negotiating for parties to achieve an agreement.  Sometimes it needs a third party to help them or to decide the matter.  That is dispute resolution.  That help may come from early neutral evaluation or from a mediator; the answer may come from an expert or an arbitrator.
 
With the Agriculture Bill’s proposal for the President of the CAAV to have statutory status for tenancy arbitration appointments in England and Wales, encouraged by the views of farming and landowning organisations, we have used much time this spring to develop the CAAV’s approach to dispute resolution in general as:

  • broader than arbitration, covering all approaches
  • broader than agricultural tenancies, across the rural economy
  • broader than England and Wales, across the United Kingdom

This is not only about those resolving disputes but also those advising parties, advocates and expert witnesses, and, prior to that, those in negotiations, all acting as professionals to help businesses and people find answers that allow life to move on.
 
However and prompted by the immediate need to respond to the Bill, the CAAV has been looking particularly at refreshing arbitration, to ensure it is held in proper regard as a means to help parties have matters settled.
 
Yesterday’s CAAV Council, with 51 members in a Zoom call for 6 hours, approved the results of that work, including:

  • the CAAV Dispute Resolution Charter
  • Appropriate Arbitration, setting out the CAAV’s approach and the tools that an arbitrator can have under the relevant Arbitration Act to act robustly to reach a fair, timely and cost-effective answer
  • now asking for applications to join the CAAV’s Panel of Arbitrators - the form and guidance for this very shortly available
  • seeking interest from those who would like to prepare to be an arbitrator or have other roles in dispute resolution.

A full Numbered Publication, Rural Arbitration in the United Kingdom, is to follow to sit with Means of Dispute Resolution and Mediation.
 
Preparing to be ready for the Bill, we are now moving to have a Panel of Arbitrators, later one of Mediators.  With the first step as the webinar on 16th July on Dispute Resolution, we are now looking at promotion and training to support this work, from utilities disputes to business contracts, which we see as ripe for members. For more details about the Dispute Resolution in the Countryside Webinar and to book, please go to the Events page on the website.

Green Homes Grant

07 July 2020

It is being widely reported in the press that tomorrow (8th July) Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce a Green Homes Grant, which will offer grants to homeowners to improve insulation in their property. We will provide further briefing to members when full details are known.

Jeremy's Blog 2/7/2020: Planning for Recovery

03 July 2020

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 2nd July 2020.

The interruption to public life and the economy created by the pandemic is now both a prompt and political cover for change in the planning system that would be more controversial in other circumstances.  The Government is beginning to set out its recovery programme, with measures to keep current development moving, to enable change and soon more detail as to how infrastructure and major change in planning will be driven. 

In a Bill taking just a day in the Commons, many English planning permissions that expiring this year are now to be extended to 1st April 2021.  Scotland has already provided for extensions.

Permitted development rights were introduced to stop the detailed planning control system created in 1947 from clogging up with minor applications (and make it more politically palatable).  In the teeth of suspicious planners, they have been much expanded – as by Class Q’s residential conversion of agricultural buildings and equivalent, more controversial rights for offices and other property. 

They are now being widened in England to allow:

  • much existing commercial property, including newly vacant shops but not pubs or village shops, to be changed to residential use
  • many types of retail premises to be converted to cafes or offices
  • the demolition of vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings to be replaced with houses
  • more rights to add space above properties.

In aiding the re-use of existing sites for housing, these respond to this year’s acceleration of deep changes in property markets, especially for much retail and many high streets, encouraging much private investment as markets drive change that local political processes might find hard. 

The promised planning White Paper seems imminent with talk of a more fundamental move towards zoning for planning.  Measures might seek to drive land on to the market, develop more land value capture and perhaps pick up the Letwin report’s proposal for New Town type approaches to larger housing development.  Equally, the Environment Bill would require biodiversity net gain from development in England, while there may be more National Parks.   

Alongside planning, Project Speed is to accelerate the £640bn of infrastructure intended over the next five years with changes possibly more radical than the Prime Minister’s attack on “newt counting delays”.  A majority Government with four years to go and an economy to revive may have that rare moment to make changes that would otherwise not be possible.

NEW PODCAST - Unlocking Development

03 July 2020

The Prime Minister has set out his vision for investment in the economy to help the UK “build back better” after the Covid-19 pandemic. In this episode, Jeremy Moody discusses how the government is eager to unlock development through reforms to the planning system and investment in infrastructure.

Also available on AppleSpotify and Google Podcasts

Catch-up on previous episodes here

Government agrees to establish a Trade and Agriculture Commission

01 July 2020

Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, has announced that the Government will establish a Trade and Agriculture Commission to make recommendations for agricultural trade policy, higher animal welfare standards and export opportunities for UK agriculture. The announcement was made on Twitter and reported on the NFU website

Announcing our next Webinar – Dispute Resolution in the Countryside

01 July 2020

CAAV Webinar - Dispute Resolution in the Countryside

Thursday, 16th July 2020

10:15am – 11:30am

Agricultural and other business disputes need cost effective, timely and practical answers.  The courts are clogged and expect people to find other answers. 

With the Agriculture Bill, the CAAV is preparing for its President to appoint arbitrators in tenancy disputes with their considerable powers under the Arbitration Act.  That brings the work of presenting clients’ arguments or in being an expert witness  The CAAV sees this as a larger opportunity to refresh rural dispute resolution and in this webinar Jeremy Moody will provide an overview of arbitration, expert determination and mediation – with blends like med-arb – as well as providing guidance on avoiding disputes by clear thinking, good negotiation and the use of early neutral evaluation. 

Price

The Ticket Price is £45 plus VAT (£54)

Registration

Book here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/caav-webinar-dispute-resolution-in-the-countryside-tickets-111957285254

 

Prime Minister's Speech on the Economy

30 June 2020

The Prime Minister has made a speech setting out an ambitious programme to drive the economy forward in the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. In it he pledged to tackle investment in schools and hospitals, build flood defences and plant 30,000 ha of trees per year and to invest in transport infrastructure, including a study of transport links to the four countries of the United Kingdom. The Government press release can be found on the GOV.UK website

Jeremy's Blog 25th June 2020: Business Review

26 June 2020

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 25th June 2020

UK agriculture typically earns some £22 billion from food production and draws some £3 billion in subsidies with an ex-subsidy surplus of £1 to £2 billion. 

Looking more closely, of that £22 billion of farming’s commercial activity, in descending order:

  • almost 20 per cent comes from dairying with BPS equal to 6% of sales
  • almost 20 per cent from grazing livestock with BPS equal to 34% of sales
  • some 15 per cent from horticulture with almost no BPS
  • some 15 per cent from cereals with BPS equal to 22% of sales
  • almost 15 per cent from poultry with BPS with almost no BPS
  • some 13 per cent from general cropping with BPS equal to 7% of sales
  • about 6 per cent from pigs with BPS equal to 1% of sales.

Those figures, with great differences between individual farms, frame the different potential impacts of the trade negotiations underway with the EU and others.  Alongside tariffs, these concern complex and critical regulatory issues that may be more important and harder to resolve than tariffs for some sectors. Importing sectors like dairy and horticulture might benefit but the risks to sectors with significant exports are clear.

For a generation, area payments have fed into costs and protected business structures that will come under challenge as Basic Payment erodes and goes, starting in England next year.  Many of those farmers who talk of England’s proposed ELMS as a new label on the same income stream are likely to be disappointed by its timing and its lower financial margin.  When available, it may prove an opportunity for some but it will be a contract of “something for something”, involving wanting cost and change in providing public goods for public money.

With the challenge of creating a more profitable and competitive sector, we are inevitably driven back to the work of the Agricultural Productivity Task Force now meeting again.  Its report, published in February, focussed on data, knowledge exchange, innovation, skills and rural infrastructure; that last including the CAAV’s work on enabling proficient people to have access to land. 

Ultimately this is for farm level decisions.  The CAAV is supporting members’ work in helping clients understand and review their businesses.  Reviewing a Business was published in December and we are now going ahead with the deferred Business Review Conference, as a virtual event, on July 27th - details published shortly.  

Tribunals - advice and guidance during Covid-19

23 June 2020

Advice and guidance on how the Tribunals across the UK are dealing with cases during the Covid-19 restrictions is available online. This includes information for applicants on how to submit applications during the restrictions and what level of service is currently being supported. In most cases there are likely to be delays in acknowledging and handling applications while most staff are still not working in their usual offices. The use of email is encouraged rather than post.

For England and Wales, the latest guidance for the Upper Tribunal Lands Chamber and the First Tier Tribunal Property Chamber (which includes the Agricultural Land and Drainage division) is available on the Judiciary website.

The Lands Tribunal for Scotland has coronavirus information here.

For information on the Lands Tribunal of Northern Ireland, go to the Judiciary NI website.

Jeremy's Blog 18th June 2020: Towards Better Arbitration

19 June 2020

 

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 18th June 2020

The Agriculture Bill, moving to its Committee stage in the House of Lords, means that the CAAV is working to be ready for the President’s role as a statutory appointer of arbitrators under the 1986 and 1995 Acts.  That work is also looking more broadly at all forms of dispute resolution, with a wider application than tenancies and across the United Kingdom.  The aim is a service to the rural economy that will enhance what agricultural valuers can do to achieve better answers for their clients.

From Inheritance Tax cases and direct payments to tenancy and planning issues, agricultural valuers are needed to assist clients on a path that can lead from an initial issue through negotiation to full blown dispute resolution, whether arbitration, expert determination, tribunal or court and with or without mediation.  All stages need facts assembled and analysed for effective arguments to be developed.    

This is not only about “dispute resolvers” – whether arbitrators, experts or mediators.  Much more professional work is involved in advising, acting for and representing clients throughout that path from negotiation to resolution.   Competence and confidence in that are as substantial a service as having good arbitrators. 

Many will feel their real successes were in achieving a good answer without a dispute, through careful preparation, realistic assessment and good presentation.  However, where a dispute arises, a well-prepared case with good evidence, drafted so that an independent third party has the material to be able to find for the client, is more likely to succeed.  The Charnley IHT case showed that a good argument (he was “farming the land using my animals”) backed by solid evidence, there from witnesses of fact, will count.

The expert witness is a privileged and responsible central figure in this process; privileged because evidence is normally limited to facts, not opinions, and responsible with the expert’s duty to provide professional opinion founded on skill and experience to the tribunal and the process, not the client.  

Recent cases have shone a spotlight on this role.  Better reported ones, such as Carr v Evelyn where the expert’s role was penalised with indemnity costs, highlight failure.  Others, more quietly as in Stubbins, see a CAAV Fellow tested by “rigorous” examination give “accurate” and “appropriate” assistance to the court.   We see the courts setting a professional standard for a professional job and members able to fulfil that.

CPA Webinar: Top Tips for Going to the Tribunal

12 June 2020

The Compulsory Purchase Association is holding a webinar on Top Tips for Going to the Tribunal, aimed principally at more junior professionals who may not have experienced the Tribunal themselves. The webinar takes place on 29th July 2020 and details may be found on the CPT Events website.

Clarity Needed on Scottish Energy Efficiency Regulations

11 June 2020

The CAAV has joined SLE, Scottish Association of Landlords and Historic Houses Scotland in writing to Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, to ask for clarity over the new Energy Efficiency (Domestic Private Rented Property) (Scotland) Regulations. The Regulations were approved in March but were not made, as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold; it is not yet known when the Regulations will be brought into force.

The four organisations have asked:

  • That expenditure incurred now by landlords carrying out energy efficiency improvements be taken into account when the Regulations are brought into force
  • That landlords are given at least 12 months notice of when the Regulations will take effect
  • That the draft Guidance prepared by the Scottish Government is updated and published as soon as possible in order to give support to those landlords who want to prepare now for the introduction of the Regulations

For more detail on the Regulations, listen to our podcast on this subject.

NEW PODCAST on Coming out of Covid

11 June 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic and its restrictions have changed the way we live and work this spring.  Many say that life will never be quite the same again.  But what does the future look like for businesses? What changes might last? How does the economy recover? In this episode, Jeremy Moody tackles these big questions and more as we navigate our journey out of Covid.

Also available on AppleSpotify and Google Podcasts

Catch-up on previous episodes here

Northern Ireland to allow retail to re-open from 12th June

09 June 2020

Northern Ireland's Economy Minister has announced that non-essential retail premises in the province can re-open from Friday 12th June, provided that the necessary safety measures are observed for customers and staff and that there is no increase in new cases of Covid-19.

Ban on evictions in England & Wales extended

08 June 2020

The Government has announced that the ban on evictions from private and social rented housing, put in place to protect tenants during the coronavirus pandemic, will be extended to 23rd August 2020.

Jeremy Moody - ‘Tomorrow’s Work: Perspective on the Future of Land Management’

06 June 2020

Jeremy Moody recently presented a webinar with Land Management 2.0 on ‘Tomorrow’s Work: Perspective on the Future of Land Management’.

You can watch a full recording of the presentation below.

Welsh COVID-19 Dairy Hardship Fund to open for applications from 18th June

04 June 2020

Further to DEFRA's confirmation of the English COVID-19 Dairy Hardship Fund opening for applications from 18th June 2020, the Welsh Government has confirmed that the Welsh fund will open on the same day. 

Eligible Welsh dairy farmers need to show they suffered a reduction of 25% or more in the average milk price they received in April and May, when compared with February 2020. Up to £10,000 funding is available to cover approximately 70% of the lost income.

Farmers will need to provide their Milk Statement covering February, April and May 2020. Payments should be made within 10 days.

The application window will close on 14th August 2020.

English COVID-19 Dairy Hardship Fund to open for applications from 18th June

03 June 2020

DEFRA has confirmed that the COVID-19 dairy hardship fund announced on 6th May will open for applications from 18th June 2020. Up to £10,000 funding will be available for eligible dairy farmers to cover up to 70% of losses experienced during April and May due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

To be eligible, dairy farmers need to show there was a reduction of 25% or more in the base price paid for their milk in April 2020 compared with February 2020.

Guidance and the application form should be published on the gov.uk website before 18th June, but potentially eligible farmers are being encouraged to get ready now by preparing details of production levels in February, April and May 2020.

The RPA expects to start making payments to eligible applicants from 6th July 2020.

Environmental projects given support to attract private sector investment

01 June 2020

Four environmental projects to protect and restore key habitats have been selected for funding under a pilot scheme looking to encourage private sector investment in such projects. The four projects receiving this funding are:-

  • Devon Wildlife Trust - Restoration of the River Caen wetlands;
  • Rivers Trust - Natural Flood Management in the River Wyre catchment;
  • NFU - Poole Harbour Nutrient Management Scheme; and
  • Moors for the Future Partnership - Peatland restoration in the Pennines.

Further details can be found on the gov.uk website.

RPA completes agri-environment scheme bridging payments

01 June 2020

The RPA has confirmed that over 3,800 bridging payments were made in May for 2019 Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship unpaid revenue claims. Further details can be found on the gov.uk website.

Vacancies for Landowner Lay Members of the Welsh Agricultural Land Tribunal

28 May 2020

The Welsh Agricultural Land Tribunal is seeking to appoint 3 landowner lay members to its panel. Successful applicants should have a good knowledge and experience of land management in Wales and be able to bring that to bear in considering cases.

The closing date for applications is 10th June 2020 and further details are available on the Judicial Appointments Commission website.

NEW PODCAST on Borwick v Clear Water – the fish that got away!

28 May 2020

The recent Court of Appeal decision in Borwick Development Solutions Limited v Clear Water Fisheries Limited considered whether solar panels and commercial fish pass to a buyer of the land.  As the first such case on solar panels and with few legal precedents for the fish, Jeremy Moody gives a fascinating commentary on the case where fish possibly worth over £1m got away!

Also available on Apple, Spotify and Google Podcasts

Catch-up on previous episodes here

Oxford Farming Conference goes virtual for 2021

21 May 2020

The organisers of the Oxford Farming Conference have announced that it will be held as a one day digital event on Thursday 7th January 2021.

From June to December 2020, OFC will hold monthly webinars to debate themes from previous conferences. To register for the free OFC Bitesize webinars, go to https://www.ofc.org.uk/conference/2021

NEW PODCAST on the energy efficiency regulations for let houses in Scotland

19 May 2020

New Regulations have been made in Scotland which will prevent landlords from letting private rented residential property if it has an EPC in Band F or G. Originally due to come into force on 1st April 2020, their introduction was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kate Russell explains what the Regulations will require and offers some tips for landlords to plan head for their introduction.

Also available on Apple, Spotify and Google Podcasts

Catch-up on previous episodes here

Agriculture Bill completes House of Commons journey

14 May 2020

The Agriculture Bill passed its final stages in the House of Commons yesterday (13th May 2020) and should be on track to pass through Parliament by this summer. Further information is available in DEFRA's Blog.

Covid-19: Estate and Letting Agents may re-open in England

13 May 2020

Estate agents and letting agents may re-open in England as the latest public health regulations, which come into force today (13th May 2020) now permit people to leave their homes in order to

  • Visit estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes
  • View residential properties to look for a property to buy or rent
  • Prepare a residential property to move in
  • Move home
  • Visit a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property.

COVID-19: Government extends furlough scheme to October

12 May 2020

The Government has announced that it will extend its furlough scheme to the end of October. From August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time and employers will be asked to pay a contribution to the cost of furlough salaries. Further detail is available on the GOV.UK website.

Wales announces new funding to support dairy farmers affected by COVID-19

11 May 2020

Wales' Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths, has announced funding for eligible dairy farmers affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Where dairy farmers have lost more than 25% of their income in April and May, they should be entitled for up to £10,000 funding to cover 70% of lost income. Further information is available on the gov.wales website.

Agriculture Bill proceeds to next stage in Parliament

07 May 2020

DEFRA has confirmed that the Agriculture Bill has been scheduled to complete its remaining stages in the House of Commons next Wednesday, 13th May 2020. It is still anticipated that the Bill should receive Royal Assent this summer.

New hardship fund to support dairy farmers affected by COVID-19 outbreak

06 May 2020

DEFRA has announced a new hardship fund for English dairy farmers to assist with the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Each farmer should be able to access up to £10,000 funding to cover 70% of lost income during April and May. Please see the gov.uk website for a news release. Further details of this new hardship fund will be issued "in due course".

Marian Spain appointed as Natural England's chief executive

05 May 2020

Marian Spain has been appointed as the permanent chief executive of Natural England, having been serving as interim chief executive since December 2018. Please see the gov.uk website for further details.

Pick for Britain - seasonal farm work

29 April 2020

The Pick for Britain website https://pickforbritain.org.uk/ offers information and guidance on seasonal jobs in agriculture, with links to jobs, frequently asked questions and Government guidance. Those who have been furloughed by employers may be able to take on seasonal farm work if their contract of employment does not prevent it.

RPA confirms bridging payments for outstanding 2019 Stewardship revenue payments

28 April 2020

The RPA has confirmed that bridging payments will be issued to Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship agreement holders who have not received a 2019 revenue claim payment. The payments should be 75% of the current estimated claim value and issued this May. Please see the gov.uk website for further details.

NEW PODCAST - Good Practice in Statutory Compensation Claims

28 April 2020

Kate Russell of the CAAV explains why good practice is so important in compulsory purchase and other statutory compensation claims and highlights some of the key messages for agents involved in this work.

Also available on Apple, Spotify and Google Podcasts

Catch-up on previous episodes here

 

 

Extra month to claim for farm payments in England

27 April 2020

Government has confirmed a one month extension to claim for farm payments in England. The 15th May deadline has been extended to 15th June 2020 for BPS 2020 applications and 2020 revenue claims for Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship. Please see the press release on the gov.uk website for further details.

Dairy sector crisis - Government to relax competition law

20 April 2020

The Government has confirmed that it will temporarily relax some competition law so that the dairy processing industry can work together to manage supply and demand during the coronavirus pandemic. In recent weeks some dairy farmers have had to throw away fresh milk because their buyers have lost catering and food service contracts. It is hoped that the temporary relaxation will allow more fresh milk to be processed into longer-life products, such as cheese, butter, or skimmed milk powder.

Covid-19 and Rights of Way

17 April 2020

Michelmores Solicitors has published a useful article on options for landowners facing busy rights of way during the coronavirus pandemic. The article can be found on the Michelmores website.

Bookings are now open for the CAAV’s new webinar on Contract Farming

17 April 2020

Contract Farming Webinar

Thursday, 30th April 2020

10:15 - 11:15am 

With many farmers and landowners needing to look hard at and review their businesses, joint ventures offer one possible answer. Contract farming agreements have developed as one form of joint venture approach that has suited many. They can be flexible, give access to skills and machinery but need to be done properly.

Widely used in combineable cropping, the CAAV has updated its publication “Arable Farming with Contractors” and now looked at extending its use to livestock in a new publication, “Contract Farming for Breeding Livestock”.

In this webinar, Jeremy Moody gives a guide to the principles and practice of contract farming, including: -

  • What defines a contract farming agreement?
  • How is it different from other types of agreement?
  • Why and when might it be used or be avoided?
  • How to operate an agreement?
  • What are the bases for remuneration?
  • Where can they go wrong and how to avoid that?

He will also explore how to handle issues from taxation and support schemes to employment and housing.

The Ticket Price is £45 plus VAT (£54)

BOOK HERE 

Contact email for this event: elaine@caav.org.uk

 

Government issues formal Notice to Proceed for HS2

15 April 2020

The Government has issued the formal Notice to Proceed for HS2 Phase 1, which enables the detailed design work and then construction to begin for the London to West Midlands section of the railway.

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