6 December 2000
Cheap hardware for subsidy claims?

By FWi staff

LOW-COST computers could be given to farmers to encourage them to submit subsidy claims electronically, the government has told MPs

In a new report to the Agriculture Select Committee the government admits it may need to give farmers “a carrot” so they take up electronic submission.

Any incentive would need to give value for money, but nothing has been ruled out, says the report, published on Wednesday (6 December).

“Areas such as the provision of low-cost PCs or subsidised Internet access (through PCs, digital TV, WAP etc) are being examined carefully.”

The report was produced after the select committee said the government had not answered all its questions about restructuring Regional Service Centres.

The group of MPs had already voiced serious doubts about the Ministry of Agricultures ability to transfer subsidy claims to the Internet.

MPs concluded that the success of the project was entirely open to question – largely because of a lack of clarity in the ministrys vision for the project.

But the government believes that it has evidence that the scheme can be a success following a pilot study of farmers in East Anglia.

It has estimated that some 8000 subsidy forms will be received electronically in 2001, which is double the amount assumed in its business plan for 2001/2.