Farmers have slammed the Rural Payments Agency for sending out unvalidated entitlement statements, which many feel are confusing, others regard as useless and consultants are warning may contain errors.
Farmers Weekly has been contacted by farmers who are angry about and puzzled by their statements.
Of the 117,000 entitlement statements that have been sent out by the RPA in the past two weeks, it has emerged that two-thirds (78,000) are unvalidated.
“Why have they sent unvalidated statements out as they tell us absolutely nothing?” said one farmer from north-east England.
“The RPA tells you to check the figures, but I can’t see how they have got to them.”
Another producer, writing on FW’s website (www.fwi.co.uk), added:
“My statement is not validated so I haven’t a clue if it is right.
I can’t imagine why it has not been validated because my situation is very straightforward with no complications.
The cynic in me thinks that there is no validation problem at all and that posting was just a desk-clearing exercise to tick a target box.”
Richard Wordsworth, NFU single payment scheme adviser, said farmers were angry because they had not been given enough specific information to work out how the figures had been arrived at. Others were worried because they had identified discrepancies between the established areas on their SP5 application forms and the number of entitlements on their statement.
Mr Wordsworth said the NFU continued to push for more guidance, but so far it was not forthcoming.
However, it was important that farmers did try to get to the bottom of the figures, he stressed.
“Farmers should read the information sent by the RPA and if this does not answer their questions they should write to the RPA for a calculation of how their values have been arrived at.
This is a one-off opportunity to get things right.”
Derrick Wilkinson, senior economist with the Country Land and Business Association, agreed it was unsatisfactory that the RPA had not adequately explained to farmers the way the calculations worked.
“They should have included a breakdown of how they have done the calculations on the statement,” he said.
A spokesman from the RPA told FW:
“The information we have provided customers with up to this point enables them to navigate their way around the statement, verify the accuracy of the number and type of entitlements on their statement, and to transfer entitlements.
“We are currently considering the most appropriate way in which we can provide further information on the entitlements calculation, to help those farmers who wish to check value figures on their entitlements in more detail.”