6 November 1998

Double HLCA, calls TFAafter survey

TENANT Farmers Association leaders have called on MAFF to double hill livestock compensatory Allowance payments.

The request follows a nationwide survey of 150 TFA members which showed that average net farm income fell 53% in the past 11 years to a level of just over £7,000.

About 20% of those surveyed recorded no income or a loss, and there was little confidence in the future with the farmers predicting another drop in income of about 12% in the next 12 months.

"These survey results make extremely depressing reading. The plight of our hill farmers is very clear for all to see," said TFA chairman Reg Haydon.

"We must do all that we can to help these producers through the most difficult times that I can remember.

"We are, therefore, asking the government, as an interim measure, to double HLCA levels for 1999 to help stem the decline in this vital sector of our livestock industry," he said.

The TFA has also asked government to extend the calf processing scheme beyond Nov 30 and to relax the over-30-month scheme weight limit for suckler cows. Green £ compensation is another demand on the associations list.

"It is a disgrace that our producers have seen little of their rightful compensation for the increase in the value of the green £. All other EU member states experiencing an increase in the value of their currency have made available full compensation to their producers. This puts UK farmers at a significant disadvantage," Mr Haydon said.

He also urged landlords to pay attention to the survey before negotiating rent with tenants. "The income figures produced by the survey would indicate that large rent reductions should be the order of the day for rent reviews taking place now and in the coming spring," he said.

Although MAFFs review of hill incomes will not be published until later in the year, TFA chief executive George Dunn said that, during discussions with ministry officials, he was pleased to note that the TFA figures "were not a million miles away from what MAFF was predicting".