14 July 1995

Help Green farmers

FARMERS who set up projects to protect the environment, improve animal welfare or reduce pollution should get more favourable tax treatment, claims the NFU in its annual Budget submission.

"Such expenditure, though often of benefit to the community as a whole, may have adverse effects on the competitiveness of a business, especially if foreign competitors do not have the same pressures," says NFU president, Sir David Naish.

In particular, he points to the UKs unilateral ban on sow stalls and tethers and the need to modify or replace dry sow accommodation. Similarly, the required standards for storage facilities on UK farms are often tougher than on the Continent, while the fiscal assistance is less. "The NFU considers the current allowances for such building work at 4% a year to be wholly inadequate," says Sir David.

He suggests it should be treated as a revenue expense when calculating a farmers tax liability, or alternatively 100% first-year capital allowances should be available.

The NFU also recommends that specialist structures such as slurry pits, silage clamps and reservoirs should be classified as "plant" and so qualify for the 25% writing-down allowance.

In the run up to "self-assessment" the NFU is also calling for a streamlining of the capital gains tax system so that at least tax specialists can understand it even if farmers cant. &#42