Anger at ‘farcical’ SFP legislation

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Just when I thought DARD couldn’t be more out of touch with reality, they sink to new lows of farcical legislation.

In recent years farmers could plant native trees on parts of their land and a grant was available to cover some of the cost. Sounds okay so far!

Biodiversity is improved. Wild native animals and birds benefit by having native trees to nest in and fruit/seeds/berries to eat. The environment is enhanced physically and visually. And although the farmer misses out on that area for grazing and LFA payment, it did qualify for single farm payment.

But the geniuses at DARD and presumably influential politicians have decided to punish those very farmers for being so silly to take part in an environment-improving scheme.

When a farmer’s term is up in the countryside management scheme and he is dropped from the scheme, these areas no longer count as area for single farm payment!

This has happened to me and other farmers. As you can imagine the effects of this are disastrous to a small business.

It has left us with a severely reduced area to claim on and the possibility of losing all our SFP money as it amounts to over 20% of our original claim.

Had we known this is how we would be treated, we would never have agreed to sign up to this scheme in the first place!

We are facing financial ruin. Times are tough enough at the minute and this crazy new rule is likely to bankrupt our business.

I call on the Farmers’ Union and all fair-minded politicians to urge DARD to change this ridiculous rule and allow areas where Native Trees were planted under an environment scheme to be eligible for SFP payment. Everyone would agree that using land to make the world a better place to live in (for both animals and people) is certainly worthy of recompense if anything is.

If that is not possible, then at least DARD should pay on the remaining areas and not punish us farmers for doing the right thing by anyone’s rational thinking.

Before the last elections many politicians talked about how they were the party supporting the farmers. Here is a chance to support environmentally-friendly farmers in a very practical and real way.

Please try to bring about some change in this legislation as we are facing financial ruin.

Although I have not put my name at the bottom of this letter I have supplied my name and address to the paper and can be contacted through them if anyone wishes to talk to me.

Yours etc,

Desperate farmer.