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The slurry with a fringe accounting benefit on top; Farming.

Byline: Karen Dent

FARMERS concerned about the implications of the new Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ) have received two pieces of welcome financial news.

Pig producers forced to increase their slurry handling systems will avoid having to pay a higher rate of tax, following lobbying by BPEX and the NFU.

It was not immediately clear how the taxman viewed slurry storage facilities, but HMRC has now clarified that slurry pits, tanks above or below the ground, a reception pit or effluent tank used in connection with the storage tank and any channels and pipes used in connection with the pit, effluent tank or storage tank, will not be treated as buildings or structures. That means they should qualify for capital allowances.

BPEX environmental programmes manager Nigel Penlington said: "This could have had serious financial consequences for pig producers forced to increase their slurry handling systems.

"However, this new guidance is welcome relief to those having to make substantial investment."

Meanwhile, farmers will no longer have to pay for waste permits to spread digestate on their fields after the Environment Agency reclassified anaerobic digestate produced from on-farm products such as manure and slurry from being "waste" to being a viable fertiliser.

Shadow Secretary of State for Defra Tim Farron said: "This will make it more affordable for farmers to go green through anaerobic digestion - it's a sensible step that we've wanted for some time.

"This is a practical solution that will relieve farmers of the some of the cost associated with the disposal of on-farm waste. But unfortunately these savings are just a drop in the ocean when compared to the overall cost of the new nitrate pollution regulations."

The Tory MP criticised the Government for introducing the additional cost of complying with the new regulations when farmers were already facing a problems.

"At a time when many farmers are leaving the industry because of fluctuating demand, shifting prices, and supermarket greed, it seems crazy that the Government would give them yet another bill to pay. But that's exactly what they are doing with these new Nitrate Vulnerable Zone regulations.

"It's important that the Government encourages environmental stewardship within the farming industry but it shouldn't be at the expense of local farmers trying to make a living." He urged the Environment Secretary to reverse the Government's decision not to financially help those farmers who have to work out for new facilities.

"It's clear from this initiative that the Government is aware of the financial burden being imposed on farmers.

I am asking Hilary Benn to reconsider his decision to allow the industry to foot the bill for these regulations and to give farmers a grant to help them meet the costs," said Mr Farron.


TAX BREAK Slurry pits will not be treated as buildings or structures.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 12, 2009
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