Latest figures from the Rural Payments Agency suggest that progress at clearing the single farm backlog remains painfully slow  – by the end of 11 April it had paid just 46,389 farmers.

The NFU, Tenant Farmers Association and Country Land and Business Association have said they remain disappointed with the continuing lack of progress in making full payments to farmers.

They have also drawn attention to the fact that the RPA is still unable to give a reasonable projection of when payments will be completed.

Because of the lack of progress the three organisations have pressed again for a system of partial payments which the RPA has said it will now seriously consider and assess.

But the agency has also indicated that interim payments are unlikely in the short-term, because a partial payment system still needs to be designed and built.

The acting head of the RPA, Mark Addison, has also made it clear that he first wants to see what impact changes to the processing system will have.

He hopes that steps such as focusing on individual customer forms in their entirety rather than in task-based batches will accelerate 2005 processing.