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More frustration with RPA

by 5m Editor
16 October 2006, at 10:35am

UK - News that farms in mid-Lincolnshire are the subject of a remote sensing survey has raised farmer frustrations and fears about the Rural Payments Agency to a new level.

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Even as farmers are warned that the RPA may take two more years to sort out the computer systems needed to cope with the single payment scheme, letters from the government’s payments agency are popping through their letter boxes to say their 2006 claims are inaccurate.

“We appreciate that the over-flying survey has to happen, because the EU accountability rules demand it,” says NFU Horncastle’s Richard Evison. “But what is really galling, is that the RPA’s computer mapping programme is still in complete disarray as it is unable to handle large amounts of data. I have members in my area who are, even after two years, still trying to agree their maps.

“The over-flying survey is throwing up some frustrating examples,” added Richard. “One member, who had sprayed off a field after sugar beet, except for wide field margins, was told he should have claimed the area as a split field. Another member was told he had wrongly declared the area of set-aside in a field, but of course it’s not there any more, so he can’t verify his claim.”

NFU regional office is encouraging all members who are affected to contact their MPs. Simon Fisher, NFU’s regional food and farming adviser added: “When the CAP reforms were announced in 2003, the then Defra secretary of state, Margaret Beckett, said the new scheme would be a simplification of the old subsidy claim system.

“This is patently not the case as farmers are finding they have to spend hours and hours going backwards and forwards to the RPA to supply or amend details to their claims – it’s adding complexity and cost to the system which they can’t afford. We want MPs to be aware of these issues and the added costs that farmers are facing because of the RPA’s actions.

“Adding more confusion and complexity to the mess the RPA has made of the 2005 SPS payments has frustrated our members beyond belief,” said Simon Fisher. “Members should make their feelings clear to MPs. NFU in the region is launching a campaign to highlight these issues as Parliament scrutinises the RPA in the coming weeks.”

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