AT THE end of February I predicted the Single Farm Payment scheme would take longer to put into place than we were being told. What an understatement that was.
With the help of uncle John, who has always helped me with IACS forms, we attempted the SP5 form; fine until I pointed out a few areas under countryside stewardship. Now, this is his job, and he has been to many meetings to help him understand the forms, but we decided to check with the helpline on this query, as it is so important.
After trying for an hour, hey presto, the, I assumed, fully trained SP5 adviser answered. Without going into too much detail, he gave us conflicting information, so we asked him to double check. Another 10 minutes later the reply was: “Yes, I can confirm this is what you have to do. What you were told earlier was wrong.” We then filled in the forms as advised.
Two days later I received a call from John that another client had the same query and again checked with the so-called helpline. This time the advice was completely different to the other two calls.
How the hell are we supposed to return forms with the right information by May 16? There has to be some assurance that we won”t be penalised for wrong information given by the RPA helpline. And, as for the inaccurate maps: No I will stop here and go and beat the hell out of a bale of straw.
It has sadly come to the end of my time as a Farmer Focus contributor, which I have enjoyed. In fact, it has proved therapeutic at times, as I can let off steam. It has been great to receive all the support I have had for my views – sometimes outspoken – I know, but someone has to say it.
You won”t be able to read about my arguments with DEFRA, but trust me there will be more. Don”t let them push you around, fight for your rights.