Get ready for 2010 – your top 12 resolutions (part 2)

Getting good advice and acting on it is crucial to keep a business at the top of its game. Suzie Horne gleaned twelve top tips for 2010 from the experts.

4. Organise compliance and its paperwork

NVZ regulations, soil water reports and general cross compliance documentation needs to be completed and readily available for inspection.

Inspections are increasing and penalty for failure to supply documentation is a cut to the SFP. Warning letters are no longer issued – first offenders face a fine of a 3% reduction in their SFP.

Soil water erosion is the most common breach, either actual erosion or failure to fill in a soil protection review. The other one that catches arable farmers out is where they have leased or let land for grazing and the livestock producer has not registered the arable holding as a “linked” holding. This leaves the arable farmer liable for any cattle passport and/or ear tag discrepancies and his SFP will is docked.

Mike Greetham, Andersons

5. Assess environmental scheme potential

Make time to think about whether any additional environmental features can be established in line with the Campaign for the Farmed Environment.

In light of reduced crop sale prices and with most five-year agreements coming to an end, consider ELS options and the opportunity for HLS in order to derive income from any marginal land. There are many farms where ESA agreements are ending and those farms need to build a good case for HLS funds to make sure they don’t lose out.

Mark Juniper, Strutt & Parker

6. Check you have best year-end date

Choice of year-end is never a simple issue, but for many arable farms, changing to a 30 September or 31 October year end can provide some flexibility over when profits arise, due to the timing of crop sales.

It may also allow recognition of the single farm payment to be deferred by a year, although the way this is accounted for can be complex.

Deferring profits may be important next tax year, when tax rates increase to 50% on incomes above £150,000 from 6 April 2010. Less well publicised is the phasing out of personal allowance for incomes above £100,000, effectively creating an tax rate of 60% on incomes between £100,000 and £113,000.

Carlton Collister, landtax llp

* Look out for the rest of the 2010 business tips over the next two days.