April 8th 2005.
The Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCI) has joined the governing bodies of motorsport in challenging the Government decision to stop subsidies to farmers who allow part of their land to be used temporarily for motorsport. Under the new farm subsidy scheme, called the Single Payment Scheme (SPS), farmers are paid for the land they own and not what they produce.
The European Directive on agricultural subsidies does not prohibit motorsports on land eligible for SPS. However, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in the UK has taken the decision, without consultation, to stop these payments if agricultural land is used, even temporarily, for any form of motorsport. This action by one division of DEFRA comes at a time when another division within DEFRA has been calling for land to be made available for off road motorsport activity to curb illegal off road use.
Motorcycle sports that will be particularly impacted are trials, grass track, the majority of enduros and motocross, as they become financially untenable and homeless. Other aspects of motorsport to be effected will include motorcycle practice tracks, quad bike tracks and trekking, off-road car events and motorised aspects of corporate entertainment.
DEFRA action is not a ban as such, because motorsports can continue as long as farmers do not claim subsidy for the land used (often only once a year). However, the income from motorsport is usually less than that available from subsidies, so the farmer would lose out financially by allowing his land to be used for motorsport.
Craig Carey-Clinch MCI's Director of Public Affairs said, "It would appear that DEFRA is a Department that is out of control, with one division calling for more land to be made available for motorsport and another withdrawing farming subsidies if the motorsport use is permitted even for a single day a year. 
"It is believed that over 40 per cent of car competitions will be eliminated and an even bigger proportion of motorcycle events. The solution is simple: all DEFRA needs to do is to revise its guidelines and to continue subsidies for land that is only temporarily used for motorsport purposes. This is entirely compatible with the EU Directive on the issue. We want this rule repealed forthwith and for DEFRA ministers in the post General Election Government to work much more closely and sympathetically with the motorcycle and motor sports community."