Calls for clarity on crossover SFP leased entitlements

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney needs to take immediate action to ensure that leased single farm payment (SFP) entitlements are not lost in the changeover from the existing Common Agricultural Policy, which ends this year, to the new scheme in 2015.

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) national grain committee chairman, Liam Dunne, said: “Under the current EU proposals, entitlements leased out under a Private Contract Lease Clause (PCC) will be lost both to the owner and the active farmer claiming them, unless the owner had claimed one or more entitlements in his/her own right in 2013. The failure by the department to resolve this situation in Brussels and issue clear guidance is causing major upheaval in the land and entitlement leasing market.”

He added: “Unless immediately addressed, this will result in financial loss for many and severely damage confidence in land leasing. This will have significant long-term consequences for land mobility, restructuring and future agricultural growth. It will negatively impact on farm output and expansion programmes, particularly for productive dairy, beef and tillage farmers. It will also restrict land availability for young farmers. It will undermine existing business, financial and banking arrangements with possible legal implications for all affected parties.”

“Lessors and lessees who enter into a PCC have a legitimate expectation that the contract would be honoured in full and that both their respective positions would be fully protected. Both farmers and SFP entitlement owners had entered into a PCC on the advice of the Department of Agriculture.”

The IFA stressed it was critical that the minister moves to resolve this untenable situation immediately avoiding further disruption, which will impact negatively on production and targets set out under Food Harvest 2020.