The National Sheep Association (NSA) is calling on Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to remove silage wrap from the plastic packaging tax due to be effective from April 1, 2022.

The association said that at a time when costs are increasing for farmers, adding yet another cost such as this will contribute to further reduction of already low farm business margins, and may lead to unintended consequences.

“The potential additional cost of PPT (plastic packaging tax) on silage wrap to UK farmers is estimated to be equivalent to an extra 10% in costs," said NSA chief executive Phil Stocker.

"That in itself is bad enough at a time when most inputs costs are increasing but it’s made even worse by new trade deals with countries that are not subject to the same costs. These trade deals will prevent the option of simply passing additional costs on to the consumer.

“The imposition of this tax could in fact have a detrimental impact on actions to collect and recycle plastic.

"The Agriculture Plastics Environment scheme provides farmers with a solution for environmentally responsible management of non-packaging agricultural plastics and to increase the quantity and quality of plastics collected.

"The voluntary scheme enables silage wrap to be collected at a cost of £60/t and a very high number of livestock farms are managed in a way where there is no immediate solution to reduce the use of silage film."

The association said that while it acknowledges the need to reduce plastic use, it recognises how current technology does not enable the production of silage wrap with a 30% recycled content to be able to properly ferment the grass; NSA therefore, it said, calling for silage wrap to be exempt from the tax, at least in the interim, while alternative systems or suitable products are developed.

NSA is not the first to call for the exemption; last week on Tuesday, January 18, Conservative Member of Parliament for Amber Valley Nigel Mills debated the issue in the House of Commons.

"My concern is shared by many colleagues, plastic manufacturers and farming industries: Guidance was — I could say sneaked out — released by HMRC just before Christmas, and unexpectedly added silage film to the list of items caught by that tax," he said.

"I contend that this is seriously damaging for our farming industry at a difficult time, and would reduce its competitiveness against international rivals."