DEFRA HAS told producers not to panic if the details of land on which they intend to claim the single farm payment have not been lodged with the Rural Land Register.

The details can still be added by hand to the SP5a form which needs to be submitted by May 16, DEFRA and Rural Payments Agency officials have confirmed.

During a Single Payment Scheme roadshow, held in Ashford, Kent, the RPA‘s Simon Lunnis said: “Being on the register is not a strict requirement.”

But he added that it would make filling in the [SP5a] forms, easier.

At the roadshow, farmers were given a sample of the form they will be expected to complete.

In the centre section are the field data sheets which should contain all of an applicant‘s details held by the RLR.

Any additional land eligible for the scheme, but which has not been registered, can be entered on blank lines after the pre-populated data, and the RPA will take that land through the registration process.

While Mr Lunnis acknowledged time was running out for applicants to register with the RLR in time for their data to be added, there were still advantages in doing it, he said.

“Those who want to apply to the Entry Level Stewardship scheme [which opens on March 3] do need to have their land registered.”

DEFRA‘s Ron Scrutton said the general rule was if you register land after May 16, 2005, you can‘t establish entitlements on it.

But late applications will be accepted up to June 10, the RPA confirmed. But there would be a 4% penalty, for each working day, applied to the payment due for 2005.

Late establishment of the actual entitlements would not be subject to penalty, providing forms were in by June 10.

Further DEFRA meetings are scheduled up to late March. To book, call 08700 434 109.