East Anglian poultry farmer Nigel Joice told the conference that the decision would cost his business £532,000 in additional taxes and make a mockery of his well-worked business plan.
“I’ve invested some £6m in my business over the last 11 years, but on 1April 2011 I will surrender £1.8m in unused allowances,” he said.
Risking future investment
It was “unbelievable” that government could retrospectively remove allowances. It put him at a disadvantage to continental producers and made him question whether it was worth risking any future investment.
“At a stroke the government has destroyed my business plan,” said Mr Joice.
NFU president Peter Kendall also urged government to maintain agricultural buildings allowances, to encourage badly-needed investment to meet the higher environmental standards and tougher animal welfare standards demanded by society.
Worth investing in?
“For the sake of a few million pounds, the potential damage is immense,” he said.
But DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn gave little cause for optimism, stressing that the decision had been taken by the Treasury in an attempt to simplify the taxation regime.
He pointed out that agriculture got lots taxpayer support anyway and this should be taken into account. “I do not believe that farming is an industry that people won’t want to invest in,” he told a press conference.