CONFUSION OVER CAP reform and single farm payment entitlements is threatening potato and vegetable lets in the eastern counties.

Solicitor Julie Robinson of agricultural specialist Roythorne and Co said the perception that entitlements would depend on the acreage held in-hand during 2005 was making farmers reluctant to allow growers to lease land from them.

This could hit the horticultural sector particularly hard, she said. “It could leave some businesses in trouble if they cannot find the land they need to rotate crops.”

But Ms Robinson said a solution to the problem could be found.

“An agreement could be put in place which requires the incoming grower to establish the entitlements and then transfer them to the landowner at the end of the arrangement.

“But it must also protect any historic element of the entitlement value for the grower, derived from his own production during the reference period.”