THE NFU and CLA have demanded that farmers will not be penalised for the delays being experienced when registering land for the single payment scheme.

NFU president Tim Bennett met with junior DEFRA minister Larry Whitty on Tuesday (April 5) to express the industry‘s grave concerns at serious difficulties in the SPS application process.

Mr Bennett has asked for formal assurances that farmers will not be penalised for the delays currently being experienced when registering land with the Rural Land Register.

The request is the result of growing problems within the Rural Payments Agency, in particular in relation to the processing of maps.

Farmers are also experiencing significant problems accessing the RPA call centre.

There have been a number of instances where questions have not been answered and where conflicting answers have been offered to queries.

The NFU and CLA are concerned that this and delays in processing maps will prevent farmers registering for the single payment scheme by the May 16 deadline.

Mr Bennett said: “Farmers are understandably frustrated and angered by the difficulties they‘ve experienced applying for the single payment scheme.”

“Both the NFU and CLA have raised these concerns, and we are now pressing for a formal guarantee that if maps are not ready by the May 16 deadline, farmers will be able to submit their details later without penalty.”

Mr Bennett said the two organisations were also demanding assurances that farmers will not be punished for genuine errors that have been made as a results of inadequate advice.

He emphasised, however, that it is still essential, despite all the difficulties, for farmers to make every effort to submit their completed forms before the deadline.