FARMERS FOCUS – RICHARD WARD
IT”S BACK to the grindstone. The Christmas break always seems to bring some sanity back and allows time for reflection and future planning. Apart from being something to look forward to during the dark days of winter, without this break, I doubt we that we could ever see the wood for the trees.
Somebody suggested I list all the rule and regulation changes this government has imposed on us since 1997. The problem is, this would take at least three Focus articles to do so and getting to grips just with the mid-term review and SFP is mind-boggling enough.
I sincerely hope DEFRA is going to be flexible with the IACS/SFP changeovers. Apart from only just receiving our IACS money, we still await the set-aside and soil management rules, which, I understand, will not be sent until the end of January – two weeks after the set-aside period starts.
Meanwhile, I an engrossed in completing an IACS 22 form regarding our multitude of woods, ponds and land not already entered on our Rural Land Register maps, for claiming the Entry Level Stewardship Scheme.
Talking of IACS, what happened to the idea of early payment due to the extra hardship suffered by the wet harvest? Could it have been a case of too much red tape being placed upon DEFRA? This was the latest we have ever received our payment.
What is more, despite recent talks, it is unlikely that our SFP will be paid before April 2006. The 2005 payment window is Dec 1, 2005-June 30, 2006, so the EU has the opportunity to delay payment until its next financial year begins.
We are told the new scheme will become less bureaucratic, but what other industry could or would put up with the massive changes we have had to endure, especially while trying to carry out their normal day-to-day work?