Agriculture | the scottish


Silage wrap has escaped a plastic tax
Silage wrap has escaped a plastic tax

But regardless of previously published use of a similar phrase by Daniel Defoe and others, the original author is irrelevant to this comment, as it would seem that at least one of these two ‘certainties’ might not be as true as we thought.

Because while it might be a step too far to credit agriculture lobby organizations with the ability to stave off the inevitability of death, hats off to them for actions last week that saw an example of the another certainty of life, if not discarded. out, then at least postponed.

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To set the stage: early last week there was a sudden furor in farm brokers when they realized the UK Treasury had quietly slipped silage wrap onto a list of products that would be taxed of plastic packaging from £200 per tonne in a bid to reduce overall packaging or encourage the use of those containing a higher degree of recycled material.

A populist government move, perhaps, but there’s no getting around the fact that the thoughtless use of unnecessary disposable plastic packaging is something worth addressing and reducing. And from turtles trapped and drowned in plastic six-pack rings to the fact that pre-production plastic pellets known as nurdles are now nearly as common as sand on many beaches around the world, plastic PR has plummeted.

But the use of silage wrap remains an absolute requirement for Scottish farmers to continue the environmentally sound practice of feeding their sheep and cattle a grass-based diet year-round. For micron stretch plastic is the only product available to wrap bales and keep air out, allowing a natural fermentation process to effectively pickle grass so it will last from summer harvest to winter feeding.

And, due to the fact that stretch wrap is so thin and delicate, no suitable alternatives to this plastic have yet been developed and effective recycled materials are not yet available.

But while these alternatives may be available in the future, farmers already recycle massive amounts of these wrappers that are then made into other products.

So rather than being an avoidable material used simply to transport goods, the wrapper is a key part of the production process, and after much lobbying by agricultural unions, including NFU Scotland, the Treasury has agreed that the film of Silage is a specialized product, whose main purpose is to allow the fermentation process necessary to produce the silage.

And this ‘no pack feature’ makes it eligible for exemption from the new tax, and HMRC will shortly publish updated guidance reflecting this position.

So, even when it’s due, our lobbying organizations are rarely praised, but at around £5 a roll on top of the already sizable price increases for wrapper driven by higher fuel prices and raw materials, I guess most farmers would. give the unions a pat on the back for pulling this off. And maybe some of us even realize that the result alone might well have covered our annual membership subscription.

But lest the top brass and officials of these organizations get too drunk on the unaccustomed accolades, it’s not the only fight to be tackled, including on the tax front.

In the same week the Scottish Land Commission came to light and with its official recommendation to the Scottish Government to consider the implementation of a land tax, not only to increase the coffers of the administration, but also to help fulfill its plans for both reforming and democratizing Scotland’s land ownership, which he seems to regard as still in feudal hands.

For while family farms may not be the primary target of these proposals, the sights are instead on both the landed gentry and the nouveau mega-rich who are often seen as treating the countryside as their own backyard. personal recreation. as the introduction of land-based sports fares a few years ago demonstrated, such units will inevitably find themselves caught up in the process as well.

And many will be hoping this is another certainty that can be avoided.


www.scotsman.com

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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