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Farmers are being urged to keep any emails to the Rural Payments Agency concise and to the point or they risk slowing down the rate at which they can be processed.

The RPA announced at the start of the month that farmers who find they have missing land parcels on their 2016 application could ask for them to be added back to their online application ahead of the 16 May deadline.

The agency said if emails marked with the subject line ’BPS 2016 add land” were sent to ruralpayments@defra.gsi.gov.uk, as long as they included the right information, the RPA would try to make the change within three days.

See also: Read more Farmers Weekly stories on the Basic Payment Scheme

But David Hill, BPS adviser for the Country Land and Business Association, said it had emerged last week that the RPA had been struggling to deal with a three-day turnaround in some instances.

“People had taken the opportunity to put in a complaint and they were struggling to decipher the email. Farmers need to be concise in terms of what they are trying to achieve.”

According to latest figures, by 26 April the agency had received 23,500 completed applications. This means more than 60,000 are still outstanding.

A spokesman said the agency had received 1,078 “add parcel” emails since 4 April, of which 131 had multiple enquiries, so were taking longer to answer.

Help was available to both farmers and agents completing their 2016 forms, he said.

The agency was taking the questions farmers are asking and providing answers in a hints and tips document published online (PDF).

Agents completing 2016 forms could also call the helpline on 03000 200 301 and, by using a new option, get through to a dedicated team.

Anyone with a paper form can also call the helpline to get their online claim set up.

Alternatively, farmers can visit one of 14 online support centres across the country.