The Rural Payments Agency has blamed printing problems for the fact that some farmers have not received an acknowledgment letter for their SP5 application within the ten days promised by the agency.

A spokesman said the letters were sent out in batches and there was an “initial print problem” with the first batch of 40,000 letters.

“But we are now back on track and batches are now going out without problems. People shouldn’t worry.”

The spokesman added that it was procedure for every application to be date-stamped when it arrived at the RPA, so the agency knows precisely when it received it.

The RPA has also admitted this week that some of the pre-printed envelopes it supplied to farmers, to return their SP5 forms, have a wrong digit at the end of the postcode.

But the agency said it believed that anyone using these envelopes would not experience problems with the accuracy or speed of delivery.

The NFU alerted the RPA to the issue after one of its members claimed that his application form had been delivered to a company called Intelligent Security Solutions in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, rather than the RPA.

The RPA’s spokesman admitted that the final digit of the postcode on some pre-printed envelopes was an old one. But he denied that the application form in question had been delivered to the wrong place.

“The idea that the postcode is wrong and that envelopes are going to the wrong place is a myth,” he said. “All envelopes are coming to the RPA without any difficulty.

“The stock of envelopes with the incorrect final digit is being destroyed, but we can assure customers that anyone using one of those envelopes will not experience problems with the accuracy or speed of delivery.

“Because we use a PO Box address, Royal Mail uses PO Box 1058 together with the NE99 part of the postcode to deliver directly to us. The final section of the postcode is not used.”