ENGLISH FARMERS who intend to farm less land from 2005 onwards could, with careful planning, still claim a significant portion of the single farm payment on the missing acres.

Producers coming towards the end of a tenancy, planning to sell land or facing compulsory purchase orders are typical examples of those who could boost their incomes, delegates attending a recent Andersons seminar on CAP reform in London heard.

Farmers who know they will be shedding acres can declare a smaller area on their 2005 IACS forms, even though they may actually farm more land than this for a while.

They can then concentrate their historic SFP entitlements, based on average subsidy receipts during 2000-02, onto that smaller area.

This is the only chance they will have, as a farm‘s SFP from 2005 onwards will be fixed according to the area claimed on 2005 IACS returns, said Richard King, a partner at the firm.

“If you lose some hectares after submitting your 2005 IACS form, then you will not be able to activate the SFP entitlement on that area in later years.

“Once you are locked into the system, there is no chance to change anything,” said Mr King.

Losses could soon mount up — for example, a combinable crop SFP payment will be worth an average of about £185/ha for growers after deductions in each of the next eight years.

“Concentrating the payment on fewer acres before IACS 2005 could make a significant difference to the SFP cheque,” said Mr King.