Dairy farmer working in an office© FLPA/Wayne Hutchinson/REX

Four farming unions have called on all UK authorities to adopt a lenient approach towards farmers who make mistakes on their CAP support applications. 

The unions from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England urged their governments not to penalise farmers who had made honest mistakes, caused by a lack of clarity in the new payment scheme rules.

See also: BPS help – Where to find your nearest RPA support centre

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), NFU and NFU Scotland (NFUS) also called for their administrations to follow the Welsh government which has pledged to make part payments to all claimants if necessary.

Presidents Stephen James, NFU Cymru; Ian Marshall, UFU; Meurig Raymond, NFU and Allan Bowie, NFUS issued a joint statement.

“We find ourselves in a unique set of circumstances this year, with the introduction of the very complex requirements under the reformed CAP.

“There are many elements that have changed completely from the previous CAP and there are still significant requirements, many relating to greening, that need to be clarified or confirmed.”

The statement added: “The slow progress and lack of clarity is causing confusion on the ground and many farmers are being forced to make business decisions or fill in their direct payment application forms with limited information.”

“In recognition of where we are with the CAP we are urging the UK administrations not to penalise those applicants who have made every attempt to comply with the requirements but find themselves caught out by the detail.”
Unions’ statement

In addition, the unions said that the whole greening regime was up for review in 2017 which could mean further changes to contend with.

“It is clear from our discussions, that there are implementation problems right across the four regions.

“In recognition of where we are with the CAP we are urging the UK administrations not to penalise those applicants who have made every attempt to comply with the requirements but find themselves caught out by the detail.”

The union statement conceded that the government departments were under pressure and were “grappling with the complexities of the new CAP as well”.

But it warned that any delay in payments caused by government failure would be to detriment of the agri-food industry across the UK.