A young farmer who has spent nine years building up his arable farm in Devon may have to sell up because of a massive shortfall in his single farm payment.

Ed Johns, who is 36 years old, started farming in his own right in 1993, building up a 12ha (30-acre) smallholding.

He later sold the land and bought the 32ha (80-acre) Woodrow Farm, Brampford Speke, Devon, in 1998.

But having decided to go to Sparsholt College to do an HND in farm management, followed by a degree in agriculture at Reading University, he let out the land on an FBT tenancy.

“None of us knew that 2000-2002 would be the reference period at the time.

I took the land back in hand in 2002, but I have ended up with no historic payment,” he says.

Mr Johns applied for national reserve entitlements as a new entrant, but found, on his wedding day in February, that his application had been rejected.

“It just doesn’t seem fair.

The government is meant to be supporting new entrants.”

Having received £7800 in IACS payments in 2003, Mr Johns had been expecting about £6000 for the 2005 single payment.

Instead, he has received just £570.

“I know the farm is small, but I have put a lot into making sure that it is viable.

Without the single farm payment over the coming few years I just can’t afford to keep farming.”

After contact with Farmers Weekly, the Rural Payments Agency said it had decided to review Mr Johns’ case and claimed he had a very good chance of success.

olivia.cooper@rbi.co.uk