Farmers are promised vital support

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Farmers, landowners and rural businesses in the Horncastle area have been promised the support they need to prosper - despite ongoing difficult economic conditions.

The message comes from the Country Landowners’ Association (CLA) which represents over 1,000 individuals and businesses in Lincolnshire.

According to the CLA’s Lincolnshire branch committee chairman Roger Douglas. farming was badly hit again in 2015 by tumbling commodity prices.

And he called on the Government to ensure Basic Payment Scheme payments were made to farmers as soon as possible.,

Mr Douglas said: “Farming has been suffering and this year has been another difficult year,”

“The Government needs to ensure that the majority of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments are made before the end of 2015, and certainly no later than January 2016.

“Late payments are going to do nothing for the state of the industry.”

Mr Douglas also called on an effective IT system to be put in place to ensure the Common Agricultural Policy is implemented in a cost effective way.

He said the CLA would work with Defra to ‘help shape priorities’ but warned farmers would face a difficult time in 2016 with cuts in day-to-day spending forecast.

“An effective IT system then needs to be put in place to ensure that Common Agricultural Policy is implemented in a simple and cost-effective way to all BPS claimants. Nobody wants to see a repeat of this year’s problems.”

Mr Douglas also said it was critical that the CLA worked closely with Defra during 2016 in order to help it shape its priorities in the face of 15 percent cuts in day-to-day spending over the next four years.

“It is critical these cuts do not undermine vital services,” he said. “We will work closely with officials to help them understand how they can achieve their objectives and ensure priority work like administering basic payments, flood protection, Natural Capital work, tackling animal and plant disease and ensuring regulatory enforcement is efficient and targeted.”

The CLA would also be calling for MPs to push the Government to end unfairness against small family businesses.

“Our concern is that the unincorporated family business has been forgotten,” Mr Douglas explained. “This is a concern because farmers and other landowning businesses are often unincorporated. They operate under a taxation regime that is more complex and costly compared to large and small corporations. Above all they will not benefit from planned cuts in corporation tax.

“We will be asking MPs to add their voice to our call for a full review that ends this unfairness and promotes growth and investment amongst these important businesses.”

The organisation, which represents over 1000 landowners, farmers and rural businesses in Lincolnshire, is keen to secure the long-term viability of farm businesses through encouraging diversification projects. However, these could only be successful if the correct advice, communications infrastructure, and funding streams were available in support.

“There’s a lot of good work going on in Lincolnshire to try and make farming profitable,” Mr Douglas explained. “Diversification not only helps to boost the bottom line, but shows rural businesses to be innovative and relevant, as well as a significant contributor to the nation’s economy.

“However, these businesses need access to good mobile phone coverage as well as fast, effective and affordable broadband – and we still do not have this in many parts of Lincolnshire.

“With every week that goes by, homes and businesses across the county are being held back by the broadband running at glacial speeds and a mobile phone signal so poor users can’t even make a call.

“The Government needs to ensure this is corrected as soon as possible so that rural businesses have the same level of digital connectivity as those in urban settings.”