These payments which should arrive in December, compensate farmers for years of poor advice from successive governments, world market prices, and the heavy cost of adhering to the bureaucratic nonsense and red tape, including ‘climate change’ and environmental policies, which are lining the pockets of a different type of fraudster.
Basic agricultural products have rarely commanded a lower income for the farming industry. Grain and milk currently suffer the worst, but others are also struggling. These are times when the industry should be supported, not hit at every corner with additional costs.
The income from the Common Agricultural Policy, through the Single Farm Payment system, is in many instances, only just keeping the wolf from the door. It is therefore essential that farmers receive the payments now.
Increasingly farmers have, as encouraged to do by successive governments, ministers and memorably by Sir Don Curry in 2001, (now Lord Curry), diversified buildings into alternative uses such as offices, farm shops, tea rooms and residential properties. We now face the introduction of the Private Rented Sector Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards regulations. These require all privately rented properties to achieve Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) level E, before they can be let to a new tenant as from 1 April 2018.
The cost to have these buildings rated is not insignificant. And, the major work required to bring offices, most of which are old farm buildings, without cavity walls, and roofs which are clearly ‘agricultural’, up to level E will incur exceptionally high capital costs.
Financial penalties for non-compliance set out in the regulation are based on the rateable value with a minimum fine of £5,000 and up to a maximum of £150,000, for continued non-compliance.
Not only do we face these unnecessary costs with commercial buildings, we also have to upgrade all residential tenanted properties, many of which are old and also without cavity walls, and few have double glazing.
When reorganising aid for the agricultural industry, future support should consider aiming some towards such capital improvements, particularly as most of these buildings are in fact perfectly habitable as they are.
However, at a time when data shows that world temperatures have cooled, and any spikes are the result of natural causes, and not man made, a whole industry has been created by profiteering scaremongers, which is being financed with the blessing of the government, by hard working farmers and small businesses. Many of which are doing their best to remain independent, pay our taxes, employ locals, and maintain the countryside and produce sustainable British food.
As illustrated in The Mail on Sunday very graphically, the recent report which is based on Nasa satellite measurements, and now backed up by the authoritative Met Office ‘Hadcrut4’ surface, which is compiled from 3,000 weather stations located around the world, shows that recent spikes were caused by El Nino – Not by man.
The vote to leave the EU means that food security must be the main driver for British farmers and growers. As we are released from the Common Agricultural Policy, as NFU President Meurig Raymond recently said, “The UK can now set its own agenda, with the farming and food industry leading the way”.
What is essential, is that food production is the priority, and although important the environmental work, which most farmers undertake anyway, should take a back seat. The essential civil engineering work to rivers and flood plains should be undertaken by the reintroduction of the River Authority. Since its demise the state of our rivers and streams is a scandal, and the cause of much of the devastating floods.
The world will be our oyster, as the UK will soon become the single largest export market for the EU. The government needs to take full advantage of this new marketplace open to us, and negotiate an increased degree of international trade.