Farmers in Wales are being warned to check their single farm application acknowledgement slips or risk losing thousands of pounds after a series of computer errors were discovered.
The Farmers Union of Wales said staff had picked up computer scanning mistakes which, had they gone unnoticed, could have lost farmers “significant sums”.
One error saw a 5.28ha field in Camarthanshire scanned as 1ha while, out of 74 field entries in the county, there were 12 scanning errors.
Other mistakes picked up include crosses declaring the intention to claim fields, Tir Mynydd and Glastir not being scanned and details of field statuses going unscanned.
Meiner Bartlett, FUW Camarthenshire county executive officer, said the errors on the slips, sent out by the Welsh Assembly Government, were particularly concerning.
“Had these errors by the government not been picked up, they could have led to significant losses for the businesses concerned.
“Every year the FUW deals with members who have lost significant sums of money due to minor errors on extremely complicated forms and some end up losing sums that are equivalent to their entire annual incomes.
“Very few of those people get their money back due to the strict enforcement of EU rules relating to obvious errors and exceptional circumstances.”
Mrs Bartlett said while errors were unavoidable, when farmers made equivalent errors they were “fined like criminals”.
“For those who have lost thousands of pounds and had the viability of their businesses put on the line due to errors that everyone – including officials – agrees were accidental, this will smack of one rule for them and one rule for us.
“But the bottom line is that this is firm evidence of the need to treat errors as errors and allow them to be corrected without fining people, no matter whether the errors are made by farmers or by the government.”