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Flooding: Business Rates and Council Tax Relief

15 November 2019

The Government has announced that householders and businesses "which have been intensely affected by the flooding" will be eligible for 100% relief from business rates and council tax for the next 3 months. Further detail is available on the GOV.UK website.

Additional £4m funding for Wales' National Parks and AONBs

14 November 2019

Wales' Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn, has announced an additional £4m funding for 2019/20 to assist National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in Wales with delivering key improvements. Further details are available on the Welsh Government website.

Government announces funding for flood-hit farmers

13 November 2019

The Government has announced that the Farming Recovery Fund will be extended to offer funding to farmers affected by the recent flooding in Yorkshire and the Midlands. This Fund was opened again earlier this year following the flooding over the summer in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire and it will allow farmers to apply for between £500 and £25,000 to cover non-insurable items such as removing debris from agricultural land and reinstating field boundaries. Details of this extended fund are being worked on and will be made available shortly. 

Government update on current flooding situation

13 November 2019

The government has issued an update on the current flooding situation in England and the work being done by the Environment Agency, emergency responders and local authorities in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. Please see the GOV.UK website for further details.

Government announces a moratorium on fracking in England

04 November 2019

The Government has announced a moratorium on fracking in England after the Oil and Gas Authority concluded that it was not currently possible to accurately predict the probability or magnitude of tremors associated with hydraulic fracturing.

Fracking operations at Cuadrilla's Preston site were suspended in August when an earthquake measuring 2.9 was recorded nearby.

Further information is available on the GOV.UK website.

Jeremy to speak at Farming Connect events in Wales

04 November 2019

Jeremy Moody will be speaking at a series of Farming Connect events across Wales starting in Ffostrasol, near Llandysul, tonight. He will be presenting under the title of ‘Preparing for Change’.

Take a look at the video (prepared by Farming Connect) showing highlights of his recent presentation at the Innovation & Diversification Wales event.

View Video

Kate Russell on the NSA’s Brexit Toolkit Podcast

01 November 2019

As a part of the National Sheep Association’s Brexit Toolkit, our Kate Russell took part in a podcast where she gave her top diversification tips.

Listen here 

CAAV Fees Survey 2019 - reminder!

01 November 2019

A reminder for all CAAV members: please complete the 2019 CAAV Fees Survey! The survey form is on the CAAV website under Members Docs/Professional Matters/Fees.

£35m funding for rural businesses under the Growth Programme

01 November 2019

DEFRA has confirmed that £35m (which could be increased to £50m subject to the number of "high-quality" applications received) of funding is being made available to rural businesses under the Growth Programme.  The funding is available for projects which create new jobs, increase business turnover, improve productivity, etc. The minimum grant threshold has been reduced from £35,000 to £20,000 to allow smaller businesses to be eligible for a grant.

The Expression of Interest (EOI) window will open on Monday 4th November 2019 and the deadline for submitting an EOI is Sunday 16th February 2020. A news release is available on the GOV.UK website. Guidance and an EOI form should also be published on the GOV.UK website shortly.

Farmland letting remains subdued

30 October 2019

Area-based subsidy payments have subdued farmland letting across England and Wales since their introduction in 2003 – and continued to do so in 2018.

According to the annual Central Association of Agricultural Valuer’s (CAAV) Agricultural Land Occupation Survey, very little land changed hands in the year to 31 October 2018, with fresh lettings falling by 15% to 4,651 acres. Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the CAAV, attributes this to area payments, which rewards the occupation of land, “We are seeing a situation whereby good land is not being used as effectively as it could be; more land could be let were it not for the Basic Payment.”

In addition, the average length of Farm Business Tenancy (FBTs) - including seasonal grazing - declined from 3.97 years last year to just 2.9 years in 2018 – or from 4.98 years to 4.14 years where short-term lets of under a year are excluded.

“This appears to reflect the caution of both owners and prospective tenants about being committed to longer term arrangements ahead of potential post-Brexit changes to trade and support,” says Mr Moody. “A 10-year tenancy let in autumn 2018 would run until autumn 2028 and so potentially see the complete removal of Basic Payment and many other changes to markets and rules.”

However, larger and fully equipped units are generally let for longer on average – at seven and half years - than bare land, enabling both landlord and tenant to plan for the future.

Despite the stagnation of the sector since 2003, the extensive adoption of FBTs means that the tenanted sector in England and Wales is larger than it was before the 1995 reforms. “Now half of all let land across the two countries is in FBTs,” says Mr Moody.

“While old tenancies under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 still cover a significant share of agricultural land, successions are to predominantly larger, well equipped farms, rather than bare land.”

Where old succession tenancies ended, the land was re-let in 65% of cases, while 92% of FBTs were re-let. “Fresh lets marginally outweighed losses from sales and land being taken back in-hand, resulting in a small net increase of 1,588 acres in the area of let land. This compares with an average annual gain of 35,000 acres between 1996 and 2003 and annual losses before tenancy reform of 60-90,000 acres,” says Mr Moody.

“In reality, the trend continues of a virtual standstill since 2003, when the first indications of the impact of CAP reform were becoming apparent and particularly since 2006 once entitlements to the Single Payment Scheme had been allocated.”

The main source of lettings was from private landowners, not institutions or public sector bodies, and new entrants accounted for 23% of lettings where the land went to a new occupier, he adds. New entrants tended to obtain longer tenancies than existing tenants, with a third taking on a term of more than five years against just 8% among existing tenants.

CAAV AGRICULTURAL LAND OCCUPATION SURVEYS 2018 - KEY POINTS

Scotland: Landscape Leadership Programme

28 October 2019

Scottish Land and Estates and Soil Association Scotland have joined forces to offer a Landscape Leadership Programme aimed at land managers who want to effect environmental change at a landscape scale.

"We want to hear from applicants who have a vision of the environmental change they want to see in their landscape, but who are facing barriers to change. The Landscape Leadership programme will help develop the skills needed to make that change happen."

The closing date for applications is 22nd November 2019 and further details can be found on the Soil Association Scotland website.

Crown Estate Scotland - 2018/19 Report and Accounts

28 October 2019

Crown Estate Scotland has published its Annual Report and Accounts for the year ending 31st March 2019.

Highlights from the 2018-19 annual report include:

  • £11.4m revenue profit returned to The Scottish Government for public spending, against target of £7.3m
  • The launch of the Local Management Pilots Scheme, enabling communities and local authorities to apply to manage Scottish Crown Estate assets
  • The development of ScotWind Leasing, a new offshore wind leasing process for future projects in Scottish waters, which will play a key part in helping Scotland reach its net zero emissions targets
  • Investment of £4.4m capital in the rural estate, including new buildings, water and electrical supply improvements and tenancy restructures
  • Facilitating a number of major ports and harbours projects around the country

EU agrees to Brexit "flextension" until 31st January 2020

28 October 2019

The President of the EU Council, Donald Tusk, has confirmed agreement in principle to there being a "flextension" to Brexit until 31st January 2020 if required. Further details can be found on the BBC News website.

Soils in Practice Events

28 October 2019

Farmers Weekly is running two Soils in Practice events, on 12th November 2019 at Coldstream in the Borders and on 14th November 2019 at Duxford in Cambridgeshire.

The events aim to help attendees understand some of the practical steps that can be taken to measure and promote healthy soil in a sustainable farm setting. Experts will present interactive theoretical and practical sessions on topics including: measuring soil components, nutrient management and pest mitigation, cover crops, organic matter utilisation and the likely implications of incoming legislation on soil health.

Details are available at https://www.fwi.co.uk/ms/events/soils-in-focus/

Lack of rural housing is a barrier to progressive farming

24 October 2019

Issues with rural housing are obstructing farming retirement and new entrants, limiting the progression of UK agriculture, says the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV).  It needs to be freed up to help handle the loss of Basic Payment.

A new report on Retirement Housing for farmers in the United Kingdom, has highlighted specific issues in rural housing, flagging up the need to make changes in order to allow the younger generation to drive the industry forward.  Housing is so often found to be the obstacle to farming retirement and opportunities for entry.

The report, written by Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the CAAV, for a consortium of the CAAV, University College of Estate Management (UCEM), The Prince’s Countryside Fund, The Royal Agricultural University and Northumbrian Water Group, highlights how lack of affordable housing can prevent farmers from retiring.

Farming is a multi-generational venture, explains Mr Moody. “Around 84% are second generation, but measures to enable the retirement of the older generation and the opening of doors for the younger generation are severely restricted.  Yet we shall need the greatest flexibility in this to manage post-Brexit change in the sector and give opportunities to the next generation.

“Sufficient housing is needed by everyone in the sector, but it’s frequently scarce and expensive in rural areas,” he explains. “Housing is one key obstacle to farmers when scaling down or retiring - whether through lack of availability or limitations in affording it.”

After considering a wide range of issues in understanding and tackling the practical problems around farming retirement and housing, the next steps are about turning this work into effective action across the UK. “We need to identify, share and promote good practice to encourage progressively better performance,” says Mr Moody.

Some solutions discussed in the report include relaxing local planning for retiring and for new farmers, such as rural exception sites, farm building conversion, tax allowances and the development of affordable housing. We also need to promote the opportunities now in policies to provide housing for the next farming generation, so that the retiring farmer can stay in the house he has always lived in, he adds.

“Taking this work forward will be about encouraging imaginative practice, proactive and positive behaviour and innovative solutions among all, from local planning authorities to families considering their future or discussions within landlord/tenant relationships,” says Mr Moody. “This needs to be in place as farmers react to the loss of Basic Payment, so we can manage change practically and give the best start to the proficient farmers of the future.”

 

Click here for the full report.

China opens doors to British Beef

19 October 2019

The Chinese government has finalised details of a UK-China agreement meaning UK farmers and beef producers will have full access to the Chinese market, estimated to be worth £230 million, for the first time in over 20 years. Further details can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Developer fined £300,000 for illegal tree felling

16 October 2019

The director of a property development company and the company itself - Enzo Homes - have been fined a total of £300,000 for the illegal felling of a giant redwood and 72 other trees near Swansea. The trees had been subject to a Tree Preservation Order. The tree surgeon who carried out the work was also fined £120,000 at Swansea Magistrates Court.

Government to introduce "ground-breaking" Environment Bill

15 October 2019

Later today (15th October), the government will introduce the Environment Bill to Parliament "to tackle the biggest environmental priorities of our time, signalling a historic step change in the way we protect and enhance our precious natural environment." Further details can be found on the GOV.UK website.

State Opening of Parliament - Queen's Speech

14 October 2019

The State Opening of Parliament took place ealier today and the Queen's Speech set out the government's agenda for the next session of Parliament. It annouced 26 Bills, including the reintroduction of the Agriculture Bill and an Environment Bill.

Chief Veterinary Officers urge poultry keepers to prepare for winter Avian Flu threat

07 October 2019

Poultry keepers are being urged by the Chief Veterinary Officers across the UK to make preparations now in order to reduce the risk of avian influenza in their birds over the coming winter months. Please see the GOV.UK website for further information.

Farmland letting remains subdued

30 October 2019

Area-based subsidy payments have subdued farmland letting across England and Wales since their introduction in 2003 – and continued to do so in 2018.

According to the annual Central Association of Agricultural Valuer’s (CAAV) Agricultural Land Occupation Survey, very little land changed hands in the year to 31 October 2018, with fresh lettings falling by 15% to 4,651 acres. Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the CAAV, attributes this to area payments, which rewards the occupation of land, “We are seeing a situation whereby good land is not being used as effectively as it could be; more land could be let were it not for the Basic Payment.”

In addition, the average length of Farm Business Tenancy (FBTs) - including seasonal grazing - declined from 3.97 years last year to just 2.9 years in 2018 – or from 4.98 years to 4.14 years where short-term lets of under a year are excluded.

“This appears to reflect the caution of both owners and prospective tenants about being committed to longer term arrangements ahead of potential post-Brexit changes to trade and support,” says Mr Moody. “A 10-year tenancy let in autumn 2018 would run until autumn 2028 and so potentially see the complete removal of Basic Payment and many other changes to markets and rules.”

However, larger and fully equipped units are generally let for longer on average – at seven and half years - than bare land, enabling both landlord and tenant to plan for the future.

Despite the stagnation of the sector since 2003, the extensive adoption of FBTs means that the tenanted sector in England and Wales is larger than it was before the 1995 reforms. “Now half of all let land across the two countries is in FBTs,” says Mr Moody.

“While old tenancies under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 still cover a significant share of agricultural land, successions are to predominantly larger, well equipped farms, rather than bare land.”

Where old succession tenancies ended, the land was re-let in 65% of cases, while 92% of FBTs were re-let. “Fresh lets marginally outweighed losses from sales and land being taken back in-hand, resulting in a small net increase of 1,588 acres in the area of let land. This compares with an average annual gain of 35,000 acres between 1996 and 2003 and annual losses before tenancy reform of 60-90,000 acres,” says Mr Moody.

“In reality, the trend continues of a virtual standstill since 2003, when the first indications of the impact of CAP reform were becoming apparent and particularly since 2006 once entitlements to the Single Payment Scheme had been allocated.”

The main source of lettings was from private landowners, not institutions or public sector bodies, and new entrants accounted for 23% of lettings where the land went to a new occupier, he adds. New entrants tended to obtain longer tenancies than existing tenants, with a third taking on a term of more than five years against just 8% among existing tenants.

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