Permit changes could curb innovation, farmers tell Environment Agency

Poultry farmers’ ability to modernise, adapt and evolve their businesses could be curbed by huge increases in administrative costs, in proposed changes to Environment Agency permit charges.

The changes would see fees for making an addition or change to poultry businesses, such as increasing bird numbers, rise from £380 to between £4,010 and £7,218. The charge for applying for a permit in the first instance, which is required for a poultry business with over 40,000 birds, could rise to £8,000 from £3,750 currently.

Farmers from across the country have urged the Environment Agency to reconsider proposed changes to permit charges, in a meeting organised by the NFU.

NFU poultry board chairman Duncan Priestner said: “I’m pleased to see so many farmers join together to urge the Environment Agency to reconsider these proposed changes.

“It could see costs spiral wildly on British poultry farms and prevent our already innovative industry from progressing further.

“Instead of investing in improving efficiency, productivity and new technology, we could see a lot of our costs tied up with inflated administrative costs.

 “At a time when many farm businesses are lacking certainty regarding the future farming environment post-Brexit, cost increases will not help farm businesses remain productive, progressive and profitable.

“I hope the Environment Agency will take on board feedback from farmers, the NFU and other organisations across the farming sector and take appropriate action regarding the proposed changes.”

The NFU has also written to James Bevan, Environment Agency chief executive, and George Eustice MP, farming minister, highlighting the concerns of farm businesses in the pig and poultry sectors.

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