By FWi staff

FOOT-and-mouth disease is set to erode arable area payments, adding to the troubled sectors problems, says the NFU.

Many livestock farmers are ploughing up IACS-eligible land and planting spring cereals, or opting for set-aside to replace unwanted forage area following recent changes to the arable area payment scheme rules, says chief arable adviser Paul Ibbott.

“This could mean more land will be claimed under the AAP scheme. With at least 5000 farms affected by foot-and-mouth, pressure on the base area will be considerable.

“For England and Wales, each 1% cut in aid claimed will be triggered by an additional 38,216ha (94,432 acres) of land being submitted under the AAPS.

That is 7.64ha (18.8 acres) for each affected farm.”

Given that the UK usually overshoots by a small margin each year, the area base could easily exceed 3% in 2001, says Mr Ibbott.

Support payments could be trimmed by an equivalent amount.

This would cut almost 7/ha off the 223/ha cereals, oilseed and set-aside payment.

To make matters worse, modulation to fund rural development is set at 2.5% for 2001 payments, says Mr Ibbott.

A 250-acre farm could lose 670 from scalebacks and 560 due to modulation.

“Add on the fact that gross output is likely to be sharply down because of the appalling weather last autumn and through the winter and you can see that there is a very serious problem brewing in the arable sector.”

FREE NEWS UPDATE
CLICK HERE to receive FWis FREE new daily email newsletter to keep up-to-date with the latest on election news, foot-and-mouth and other farming-related stories