01 May 1998
Industry pleads for flexible retirement scheme
BRING in a retirement scheme, but make it more flexible than the current EU scheme and dont expect it to solve the fundamental problems of the livestock sector.
This is the broad reaction to the Governments consultation on industry restructuring, which focuses on the EUs early retirement scheme as a means of removing less efficient producers.
This offers a maximum lump sum of £28,100 or an annual payment for up to 10 years, with funding shared between the EU and the member state.
One of the main criticisms is the limited nature and scope for uptake by farmers in the UK, in particular the requirement that the applicants holding must be amalgamated with a larger unit.
Any restructuring which depends on the amalgamation of Welsh farms is likely to have a devastating effect on rural communities, warns the Farmers Union of Wales.
The NFU, Tenant Farmers Association and Country Landowners Association are all concerned at the complications of the scheme for landlord/tenant issues.
“Our members will find it very difficult to bind their landlord to the scheme to fulfil the amalgamation requirement or that the land be taken out of production,” said TFA chief executive George Dunn.
“It is hardly custom-designed for the UK,” said CLA policy director Tony Bailey, referring to the original aims of the scheme to improve the viability of very small holdings in southern member states of the EU.
The scheme in its present form was also likely to throw up many questions on the eligibility of members of partnerships, said Stephen Rossides, head of livestock at the NFU. Under the existing scheme it was unlikely that one member of a partnership could take the payment and leave the remaining partners farming the same land.
The NFU was also keen to see a scheme running for longer than the two years suggested by MAFF.
For this and other stories, see Farmers Weekly, 1-7 May, 1998