Milk producer loses eviction fight
By Robert Davies
A MONMOUTHSHIRE milk producer has lost the last round of a bitter legal battle to retain possession of the unit he has farmed for 15 years.
As farmers weekly went to press court bailiffs were due to execute a warrant of possession for Cayo Farm, Raglan. The action follows a Court of Appeal decision that it could "see no basis" to interfere with a June 1998 judgement that Lord Raglan had been entitled to possession since a share farming agreement was terminated in 1992.
Because Arthur Harris and his wife Dianne want to dispose of their 120 milkers through a special dispersal sale they spent the early part of this week placing batches of them on the farms of friends and neighbours.
As ownership of the units 600,000 litres of milk quota is still an issue, the partners risk a super- levy bill for production between Apr 1 and the date of the sale. But Mr Harris insists that Lord Raglan has no claim on the 50,000 litres he purchased for £17,500 in the late 1980s.
Solicitors representing the farms owner contend that because the judge at the trial in 1998 decided that no tenancy existed, Mr Harris is a trespasser and is not entitled to any of the quota.
In a statement on behalf of Lord Raglan, Bristol-based Burges Salmon said: "Arthur has got himself into a very difficult position with which I have sympathy, but for the past four years Arthur has argued wrongly that he has a tenancy of Cayo Farm. That misconception means that Arthur has not taken the steps he should have taken to arrange an orderly transfer of his herd to another farm."
Mr Harris alleges that his former share farming partner is prepared to ruin him to exploit the development potential of the farmhouse and buildings. He claims that Lord Raglan failed to comply with the terms of the original agreement, and did not contribute to more than £70,000 spent on capital works and equipment.
"While he was getting 12% of the milk cheque without putting anything into the business he was happy to let the arrangement drift along after the original three-year agreement ended," Mr Harris alleges. "But when I switched to paying £7500 a year in rent, as set by an independent valuer, he decided to repossess the farm, and even had the cheek to claim the difference between the rent and his estimation of 12 % of dairy herd profit."
Burges Salmon dispute Mr Harriss claims and insist that while he benefited from the improvements made, these are of no value to their client. *