15 October 1999

New entrants unlikely to get any LFAquota

By Robert Davies

MORE should be done to make new entrants aware that they are unlikely to get an allocation of English national reserve LFA quota, according to one Shropshire-based producer.

David Jones, signed a three-year business tenancy on 24ha (60 acres) of LFA land with common grazing rights at All Stretton, Shropshire, a year ago.

Better informed

He now acknowledges that people like him who are trying to get on the first rung of the sheep farming ladder need to be much better informed about their chances of getting reserve quota.

"I believed that I would be eligible but ended up running 320 ewes with only 172 units of quota, which was all I could afford to lease," claimed Mr Jones. "This means operating without support payments for all the ewes for which I do not have quota in a season when lamb returns only cover the rent."

Assumption

Mr Jones assumed that he would receive an allocation from the national reserve of English LFA/Sheep Annual Premium Scheme quota. This is created from the 15% siphon on permanently transferred quota and by clawing back quota from producers who do not use at least 70% of their allocation.

As he was in category 3b of the six categories he anticipated getting a significant number of units. But as a letter from MAFF regarding his application for SAPS 2000 quota indicated, the total LFA supply in England was 20,362 units of which 18,651 units went to category 2 applicants.

These were people who had taken over from a former agricultural tenant rather than like him from a land owner.

After 1000 units were set aside for late category 2 applicants and for siphon and claw back appeals only 711 reserve units were available for other categories.

As demand in categories 3a, where a farmer had switched from arable to livestock, and 3b totalled 35,563 units, the distribution would have been 0.01 units for each unit requested. Because only whole units are issued the 711 available were held in reserve.

Next year unlikely

And the small number of permanent quota transfers in England mean Mr Jones is unlikely to be allocated units next year. However, if he farmed within the ring-fenced Welsh LFA, where there are more deals, he would have been issued some for the year 2000.

"I have worked very hard as a contractor to get a start in farming but just as land becomes available at affordable rents all the odds are stacked against me. MAFF should give much more publicity to the problem new-comers face getting national reserve LFA quota in England."

Shropshire-based sheep producer David Jones is warning new entrants to farming about the difficulty in obtaining sheep quota.