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TFA e-newsletter 5 January 2018

Happy New Year from the TFA!

Welcome to our first e newsletter of 2018. The TFA team look forward to working with all of our members in the coming year and we hope to see as many of you as possible at our events throughout the year and at the shows at which we will be exhibiting.

The TFA’s National Chairman, James Gray has issued a New Year statement which calls upon the Government to move quickly to provide confidence to the farming industry by setting out a clear plan for the policy environment in the immediate post-Brexit period and beyond. To read his statement in full,click here

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TFA Chief Executive George Dunn

TFA Chief Executive Reflects on the Events of 2017

TFA Chief Executive George Dunn reflects on the events of 2017 in his regular column in the East Anglian Daily Times published at the end of December. He also anticipates what might be in the Government's 25 year plan for the environment and its promised Agriculture Bill. To read his article in full, click here.

RPA 2015

RPA Meets 90 per cent Target for BPS Payments in England

The RPA’s Chief Executive, Paul Calldwell, has advised the TFA that the RPA has met its commitment, given to the House of Commons Environment Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, to pay over 90% of farmers by the end of December 2017. This was confirmed by DEFRA Secretary of State, Michael Gove, during his speech at the Oxford Farming Conference. The TFA has welcomed this news and the fact that payments have been made across all segments of claims including Commons and complex claims. However, for the 10% of individuals yet to receive a payment, the TFA is asking the Government to make bridging payments in lieu of the final payments expected.

Red Tractor

Red Tractor Assured Farmers Don't Need Separate Permission for Rodenticides

The team at Red Tractor has asked the TFA to publicise the fact that its standards have been recognised by the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU) which means that Red Tractor Assured farmers can continue to buy professional rodenticides without taking part in a stewardship training course. The CRRU has acknowledged that the Red Tractor standards are fully aligned with its UK code of best practice on rodent pest management. For full details, click here.

Michael Gove at OFC18

Michael Gove MP speaking at OFC18

Gove Gives a Glimpse of Future Farm Policy at the Oxford Farming Conference.

DEFRA Secretary of State, Michael Gove kicked off the politics session at the opening day of this year’s Oxford Farming Conference with a speech, widely trailed in advance in the national press, in which he addressed the potential shape of future farm policy. Interestingly he did not state, as had been suggested he would, that the existing Basic Payment Scheme arrangements would continue until 2024. What he did say was as follows:

“We will pay the 2019 BPS scheme on the same basis as we do now. I then envisage guaranteeing that BPS payments continue for a transition period in England, which should last a number of years beyond the implementation period, depending on consultation. During these years, we propose to first reduce the largest BPS payments in England. We could do this through a straight cap at a maximum level or through a sliding scale of reductions, to the largest payments first.”

However, it does seem clear that we will not see major change in the policy environment, at least in England, for a few years to come. The promised White Paper, as the precursor to an Agriculture Bill, he said would now come “in the spring” and it will chart a course in which future support would be targeted at public benefits, within which he listed environment, technological improvements, rural skills, rural resilience, public access and soil health. All of this to be subject to consultation.

In mid-December farming and environmental voices joined forces to ask the Secretary of State to provide a "Gove guarantee" to ensure that individuals making a long-term commitment now to Countryside Stewardship would not be disadvantaged when new arrangements were introduced in the post Brexit era (click here for more information). In his speech the Secretary of State appeared to provide the guarantee that we were looking for when he said:

“We will continue support for Countryside Stewardship agreements entered into before we leave the EU and we will ensure that no one in an existing scheme is unfairly disadvantaged when we transition to new arrangements.”

The TFA will be working with colleagues in other organisations to ensure that DEFRA makes this a reality.

As a final highlight, the TFA has been calling for the Government to take forward changes to the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator to allow it to be able to regulate the whole of the supply chain (click here for more information). In response, the Secretary of State said the following:

“Government can also intervene closer to home where there is market failure. When, for example some powerful players in the food chain use the scale of their market presence to demand low prices from primary producers who are much smaller and dis-aggregated. That is why my colleague George Eustice is looking at overall fairness in the supply chain.”

Close, but no cigar – the TFA will continue with our lobbying here.

To read a full copy of Michael Gove's speech, click here


New Arrival for TFA Adviser Sara Sumner

On the 27th of December TFA Adviser Sara Sumner and her husband Herbie celebrated the birth of their second child, Seth Ramsey, at hospital in Exeter. Although a month earlier than planned and with a few complications Sara and the baby are hoping to be home this weekend. Sara will be on maternity leave from her role for remainder of the year.

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Forthcoming TFA Regional Meetings

The TFA is hosting two regional meetings this January.

The first will be held on 22 January at Crooklands Hotel, Crooklands, Nr Kendal. LA7 7NW and the second on 23 January at Tynedale Farmer Function Suite, Tyne Green, Hexham. NE46 3SG.

These meetings are open to both members and non-members. TFA Chief Executive George Dunn will give an update on Post Brexit policy issues faced by farm businesses in the tenanted sector. There will also be guest speakers from the AHDB and the Campaign for Farmed Environment (CFE).

If you are interested in attending please contact Julia Meadows at the TFA’s Head Office on 0118 930 6130 or email to book your place. If you don’t get around to calling us please feel free to drop in on one of the two days.

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TFA Seeks a New Adviser to Join Its Head Office Team

The TFA is offering an exciting new role at its head office combining work with Government to influence agricultural policy development and advice to TFA members on its implementation. Click here

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Our members in England may find the next article of particular interest.


Natural England: Expiring HLS Agreements

Natural England has stated that 980 Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements are up for expiry this year, contractors will have an initial discussion with each farmer who has an expiring HLS agreement to help them into Higher Tier or Mid Tier.

Natural England: 2017 CS Payments

Natural England has confirmed that for Countryside Stewardship (CS) payments, 75% will be paid in advance by 31st March 2018 and 100% full payments by 30th August 2018.

Natural England: 2018 CS Agreements

Natural England (NE) has informed the TFA that draft agreements will be posted out by 31st March 2018, this month NE will be writing out to identify where agreements are in the process. All agreements will be back dated to 1st January 2018.

Environment Agency

NVZ: New Designation in 2017

NVZ: New Designation in 2017

If any of your land was designated as a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) for the first time in 2017, then transactional arrangements were applied so that you did not have to comply with any of the legal requirements during the first year. However, from 1 January 2018, you will need to start adhering to some of the legal requirements:

• Using nitrogen fertilisers in nitrate vulnerable zones;

• Storing organic manures in nitrate vulnerable zones. It should be noted that those who were newly designated in 2017 are not required to adhere to any of the following legal requirements until 31 July 2019;

• Restrictions on spreading slurry (regulation 18);

• Closed periods for organic manure (regulation 20);

• Exemption for organic holdings (regulation 21);

• Closed period for manufactured nitrogen fertilisers (regulation 22);

• Separation of slurry (regulation 24);

• Storage capacity (regulation 25).

Key Dates for 2018

• You must start following the rules in the cross compliance 2018 guide from this date. The Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) 2018 year starts and land used to claim BPS must be eligible all year. (Basic Payment Scheme 2018)

• You can apply organic manure with a high, readily available nitrogen content (for example, slurry, poultry manures or liquid digested sewage sludge) to grassland and tillage land on shallow or sandy soils from this date if conditions are suitable and you adhere to the quantity restrictions when applying these manures. (SMR 1)

• Beginning of the year for assessing the annual amount of livestock manure applied to your land. (SMR 1)

• The 2-year statutory window opens to apply for a water resources abstraction licence from the Environment Agency if you abstract (take) more than 20 cubic metres a day for a previously exempt activity. (GOV.UK)

• Start of the 2018 Ecological Focus Area (EFA) period for EFA fallow land. (Basic Payment Scheme 2018)

• EFA period for hedges (which must be present all year unless newly planted) and buffer strips (which must be present all year)

TFA Cymru

Our members in Wales may find the next article of particular interest.

Pont Conference 2018.
Farming, Nature and Food – Grazing for the future

6 – 7 February at The Dragon Hotel, Swansea. For more details click here.

Newspaper clip art

TFA Updates

Weekly Uploaded Documents

The following articles and documents have been uploaded to the TFA’s website since the publication of the last TFA e-newsletter.

Media Releases


bira pension auto enrolment

TFA Members Benefits

bira Pensions Help desk Changes

bira Pensions would like to inform you of some important changes to the auto enrolment workplace pension service, provided through your bira pensions scheme. For more information, click here.

fresh start logo

Fresh Start Land Enterprise Centre Offer

The TFA is delighted to be working with the Fresh Start Land Enterprise Centre to offer new TFA members looking for their first tenancy or other business opportunity automatic enrolment into the Fresh Start Land Partnership Matching Service at no additional cost (usual annual fee £30.00). This service provides a bespoke data base which helps to match people looking for rural business opportunities with those who have land and or buildings to offer budding entrepreneurs. For more information about the service click here


And finally…

Can you help this Royal Agricultural University student with her dissertation?

Jordan Branson, is currently studying at the Royal Agricultural University. She is looking at National Trust Tenant Farmers and what it means to be a tenant farmer. She is also interested in how the trust influences and manages its farms.

In order for her to complete her dissertation, she needs to interview a number of National Trust tenant farmers in Cheshire or the surrounding area, who may be interested in taking part in her study between 11th January – 1st February 2018.

Anyone wishing to partake in the study would be completely anonymised and the information would be strictly confidential. To help Jordan, either email or call 07894441694.

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