Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Holding Transfers Warning

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Holding Transfers Warning

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jennifer Mackenzie

North farmers could lose out under new rules of the Single Farm Payment Scheme when selling or transferring part holdings with entitlements.

Lord Whitty has written to all farmers and has enclosed a brochure dealing with various updates relating to the Single Farm Payment system. All farmers registered under the June Agricultural Census should have received such a publication. This may not include all potential SFP claimants.

Christopher Hewitt, head of agriculture at leading North-East law firm Ward Hadaway, warned: "Reading through the brochure makes one realise the difficulties that could be encountered in the future. For instance, the position relating to the transfer or sale of part holdings with entitlements is going to be very different from the position of transferring whole holdings.

"This is because in the case of the transfer of part the farmer must continue to have the land at his disposal for a full 10-month period otherwise the entitlements will be lost for at least a year.

"In the transfer of a whole holding however the incoming farmer can continue with the 10-month period."

For transfers taking place before May 16, 2005 (the application date) special rules are included in the regulations permitting a purchaser to acquire the seller's entitlement, including the historical element.

The brochure also gives a helpful list defining what land will be considered as "at the farmer's disposal" for the 10- month rule. Mr Hewitt said: "The list is not exhaustive but is a very useful guide. Defra quite clearly anticipates that there will be arguments over whether land is at the disposal of a particular applicant and there may well be more than one claimant in relation to the land. As Defra says: `You should start to consider now who the rightful claimant might be and come to an agreement about the control of the land and who will submit the claim next year. …

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