Ipswich: CAP reform ‘still risky’ SAAV expert tells farm professionals

Jeremy Moody, Secretary and Advisor of the CAAV (Central Association of Agricultural Valuers), speak

Jeremy Moody, Secretary and Advisor of the CAAV (Central Association of Agricultural Valuers), speaking at the Suffolk Association of Agricultural Valuers (SAAV) breakfast at the Suffolk Food Hall. - Credit: Archant

REFORM of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been “glacially slow” and there are no guarantees it will be tied up by June, a land expert has warned.

“There are risks still surrounding this, and risks still attending the European budget,” he said.

“We have now gone from one draft to three drafts. We have spent nearly 18 months getting to this position.”

Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV), was in Ipswich earlier this month to address the Suffolk Association of Agricultural Valuers, described as the oldest of the associations.

He addressed a packed audience of valuers, who were joined by landowners, solicitors, bankers and accountants at Suffolk Food Hall at Wherstead.

They were there to hear the latest developments in CAP reform and about Mr Moody’s dealings with Brussels and Whitehall.

“We’ll get onto the fact CAP reform isn’t reform in a moment,” he told the audience.

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Mr Moody who has been in post since 1995, saw through the Farm Business Tenancy reforms of 1995 and is a member of the Tenancy Reform Industry Group (TRIG) and the McDonald Report Implementation Group.

He has also been engaged for many years with CAP reform, dealing with Brussels and Whitehall officials and other bodies as well as dealing with practical issues and questions posed by solicitors, accountants, valuers and landowners.

“There’s so much on the table to talk about, I would not like to guarantee it will be done by June,” he said of the CAP reform talks.

The National Farmers’ Union had estimated a subsidy cut for UK farmers as things stand at about 22% in funding coming into schemes here, he told delegates.

What “greening” and “capping” will mean will change considerably in the course of the negotiation, he predicted.

Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) schemes curiously looked “immune”, he added.

“At no point in any of this have I picked up a qualm about HLS agreement except they will be coming to an end,” he said. “All the discussion is on Entry Level Stewardship (ELS).”

He added: “Anything agreed from January 2012 will have a revision clause attached to it.”

“Greening will be new and we are definitely going to have a new regime for agri-environment schemes.”

He advised keeping flexibility for clients against the different prospects which CAP reform may open up.

There were issues around the existing entitlements register, he said. At the moment, the “key to the front door” was the existence of a business which had successfully claimed in 2011, he said.

“All I can do is counsel extreme care over business restructuring,” he said.

Active farming was a less troubling area than a year ago, if the farmer is farming, but campsite or golf course owners were falling into the “undeserving farmer” category, he said.

Capping “won’t affect very many people at all”, he predicted. Under greening, the professionals gathered would “regret the loss of simplicity of the Single Farm Payments”, he predicted.

The “real heart of darkness” was the agri-environment schemes and the shrinking funds available for them, he said.

“The more they do this swiftly, the more it will probably be left for member states to decide,” he said.

There were problems welling up, he said.

“The question for professional advisers is where you sit on the spectrum of risk.”

The Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV) was formed in 1910 by representatives of local valuers’ associations to provide a national organisation with professional authority which represented valuers and ensure professional standards.

SAAV president Oliver Holloway said that in his presidential year, he wanted to promote the organisation to a wider audience and had invited other professionals, which whom valuers are regularly in contact, to the breakfast conference with that in mind.