FarmWeb News 06/08/2012

Currently repairs and maintenance to listed buildings are subject to 20% VAT, whereas alterations are zero rated.  HMRC has indicated that this zero-rate concession will end on 1st October 2012, bringing listed buildings into line with other types of buildings.  Whilst lobbying by interested groups continues, owners are rushing to complete any outstanding alterations before this deadline.  Insurance implications for both sums insured and future claims costs.

NFU Scotland has formed a new umbrella organisation, Dairy Farmers Together, to strengthen the hand of producers in the light of the recent milk pricing problems. Start-up finance of £100,000 has been provided by the Scottish Government.  Meanwhile, intense lobbying and physical blockades have resulted in the four big milk processors withdrawing the price cuts planned for August as industry-wide discussions take place on a future pricing structure.  The uncertainty does not seem to have affected the prices of dairy cows which are forecast to remain firm.

A study by the NFU E&W has shown that the incidence of fly-tipping on private land has risen by 45% in the last twelve months, costing farmers an average of £170 to clean up.  The CLA has set up a pilot scheme with Suffolk County Council, funded by DEFRA, to find ways of helping victims with the clean up.  FarmWeb’s policy provides up to £5,000 cover for this event.

The Scottish Government has set up the Land Reform Review Group to oversee a wide-ranging review of land use and management in the country.  There is concern about abandonment and inappropriate land use.

Figures from NFU Mutual show thefts from farms totalled £52.7m in 2011, a rise of 6% on the previous year.  Theft of tractors has fallen in England and Wales, but risen in Scotland and Northern Ireland.  Power tools, quad bikes, metal, fuel and farm chemicals are all popular targets for thieves.

The adverse weather has delayed harvest in many areas.  Over 40% of the winter barley and 20% of the oilseed rape crops have been harvested, and some wheat harvesting has also started.  Yields on all crops are around average but quality is variable and not expected to improve as harvesting progresses.  Visit the home page of our website for FarmWeb’s practical help for farmers during harvest.

MEPs have submitted over 7400 amendments to the CAP reform proposals which were published in October 2011.  Most amendments relate to the re-direction of money into green schemes and to the newer EU members in Eastern Europe.  The reform package has been widely criticised by the UK Government and farmers.