Farmers are angry that they are having penalties applied to their 2005 single farm payments, but they are being given little explanation as to why they are being fined.

A consultant from Oxfordshire has contacted Farmers Weekly to say that one of her clients has had a penalty of about £10,000, but the Rural Payments Agency has not given an explanation.

“He did receive a cheque, but for less than he was expecting and the penalty notice arrived a week later,” she said.

“There is no reason for him to be penalised, so we have written to the Customer Service Centre and are awaiting a reply.”

Richard Wordsworth, NFU single payment scheme adviser, said it was another RPA communications problem.

The payment statement carried details of any cuts, but it was difficult to decipher what the penalty referred to, he said.

An example of what a farmer might find on the payment statement was “Penalty on irregularity for base SPS crop group (irregularity between 3% and 20% for the crop group)”, which meant little to a farmer without a covering letter, he said.