8 August 1997

One-valuer rule aims to speed up selective cull

By Shelley Wright

IN a bid to speed up the selective cull, government has announced that farmers with 10 or fewer cohorts will be restricted to just one valuer from a government approved list to assess compensation.

At the moment all producers can appoint their own valuer in addition to the one selected by government. But, according to MAFF, the logistics of trying to arrange a time for both valuers to be on the farm at the same time has hampered the selective culls progress.

Junior farm minister Jeff Rooker said the new arrangements should make the valuation procedure simpler and faster to operate.

"We have made good progress with the selective cull so far. Nearly 15,000 animals have already been culled. But we need to crack on," he said. "It is in the industrys interests that we complete the process as soon as possible."

The new procedure would be put into practice immediately, wherever possible. But government had to consult with the industry before the change could be legally enforceable.

NFU leader, Sir David Naish, said the switch to one valuer for 10 or fewer cohorts was necessary. Speeding up the cull should help get the beef ban lifted, he added. But the approved list of valuers should be as wide as possible.

The Tenant Farmers Association has opposed the move. George Dunn, TFA chief executive, insisted that one valuer, acting on behalf of the government, was certainly not in the best interests of farmers.

"We have already seen wide divergence of up to £600 an animal in valuations given by independent valuers, acting for the farmer, compared with the government valuers," he said. &#42

25% rent rise claim attacked by tenants

TENANT farmers have condemned suggestions by land agents that farm rents could rise by up to 25% this autumn.

According to the Tenant Farmers Association, agents representing landlords have suggested that rent increases of up to 25% can be expected this Michaelmas.

But Reg Haydon, TFA chairman, insisted there was no case for any rise. Instead, the fall in cereal and milk prices, the depressed beef market and the decline in livestock support caused by the revaluation of the green £ meant there was an argument for lower rents. "Farm incomes are clearly on the decline following the trends shown in last years MAFF survey and we should therefore see rents in many cases either staying the same or reducing," Mr Haydon claimed.

The TFA was also concerned about the activities of some letting agents who were attempting to agree rents now with tenants whose reviews were not scheduled until Mar 1998. "Given the fact that there is declining profitability within agriculture, tenants would be wise to wait until nearer their review dates before entering into any negotiations," he said. &#42