Farmers win reprieve on entitlement cut-off

Farmers may have won a reprieve with just three banking days remaining before the entitlement trading window closes for this year’s single farm payment.

Farmers Weekly has learned that DEFRA has secured an extension to the April 2 deadline after emergency talks with the European Commission.

Sources could not say how long the deadline had been extended for, but there is already talk of asking Brussels to waive some of the late submission penalties for SFP claims this May.

A flurry of transfers has been seen across England so far this week and George Paton of broker Webb Paton said: “We desperately need an extension of the 2 April deadline.

“Every day the volume has been building and since Monday we’ve had about 250 enquiries. I’ve still been taking calls at quarter to ten in the evening and working till midnight.”

Mr Paton said he was optimistic about the chances of an extension, but the NFU is pushing even further for a delay to the 15 May deadline for single payment applications.

Entitlements yielding between £190 and £300 this year were the easiest to sell, Mr Paton said, while the higher value ones were proving difficult to place.

Low-value area-only entitlements were also selling well at a multiple of some 2.5 times this year’s pay-out.

2005 SFP yield/ha  Area of lot  Price/ha 
£244.77/ha 6.03ha £435/ha
£19.23/ha 78.17ha £100/ha
£2,583.61/ha 1.47ha £4625.85/ha
£327.15/ha FVP 86.31ha £725/ha
£192.07/ha 7.50ha £350/ha
Land swap £60 per hectare

Enquiries from growers needing fruit, vegetable and potato entitlements had also been numerous this week, he said.

They were selling at around 2.2 times the value of this year’s pay-out. “They are the ones the system really isn’t designed for.”

Broker Ian Potter said transfers had been relatively few this week, but his new entitlement release scheme had met a great response.

Launched last Friday (24 Mar), the scheme allows farmers to mortgage part of their single farm payment income in exchange for an up-front loan.

“By Monday we had had more than 150 enquiries. Tenant farmers have said they’ve never found it so easy to go and raise capital.”