NFU president Peter Kendall told the minister he was disappointed that, after five years of the Single Payment Scheme, performance was still lagging behind the rest of Europe.
“The targets set for the RPA for SPS 2009 are the same as they were for 2008 – to have paid 75% of the value of valid SPS claims by 31 January 2010 and 90% by 31 March 2010.
“The problems of the past are still affecting far too many farmers and, with the threat from the CAP Health Check to bar correction of entitlements post 1 January 2010, farmers still waiting for money from their 2008 claim needed to be sorted out well before 2009 payments started.”
Mr Kendall said he was concerned that recent changes announced by the RPA regarding the current Rural Land Registry remapping exercise were not going to solve the problems that had been caused.
The changes included the requirement for marker posts in situations where extensive areas of arable and upland were in multiple occupancy and the needless changing of field references and the impact this would have on 2010 applications.
“We are worried that there are still situations where new RLR mapping is going to cause significant problems to farmers and growers,” Mr Kendall said.
As a matter of urgency Natural England should work with the RPA to improve software so that those wishing to enter into Entry Level Stewardship agreements and the forthcoming Upland ELS don’t have to use marker posts, he added.
Tony Cooper, RPA’s chief executive said: “RPA targets are agreed with Ministers and we are striving to improve performance and levels of service as much as possible. This includes finalising the small number of 2008 Single Payment Scheme claims not yet fully paid.”