Letters in letterbox©Business Images/Rex Shutterstock

Farmers who have found it impossible to get hold of a Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) form, despite repeated requests, have hit out at the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).

Farmers Weekly has been contacted by two farmers who have been requesting a form since mid-April, but had yet to receive one by 19 May. 

The NFU is also reporting that it has been contacted by a number of farmers struggling to get hold of an application, even though senior officials in the RPA have claimed that everyone should now have one.

See also: RPA extends deadline for farmer to map PIFs

John Emmett from Tregassa Farm in Portscatho, Cornwall, said he had phoned the agency more than 10 times since 16 April, but with no success. 

The RPA had managed to send him a letter urging him to complete his form – a communication which had made him “see red” given he couldn’t because the agency hadn’t sent him one, he said.

“The staff are wonderful, but the system behind them is diabolical,” he said. “We’re now past the first deadline and the second one is fast approaching.”

Tom Matthews from Common Farm in Uffington, Oxon, said he and his father Jim had also been trying to get a form from the agency since mid-April. 

Repeated calls to the helplines had led to promises that an application would arrive in a few days, but it never did.

Mr Matthews said it was particularly frustrating as he had made good progress with the digital system before the plug was pulled.

“We’re now 10 days away from the end of May and into a time when we’re silaging, fertilising and are generally flat-out. We’re going to have to pick up the pieces [to get the form done by 15 June] and it’s frightening.”

Richard Wordsworth, NFU BPS adviser, said the union was continuing to get calls from people without a claim form.

“They are frustrated, anxious and stressed,” he said. “They are told that a form will arrive in five days, or 10 days and they wait, but then nothing materialises.

“Something is clearly not working as it should.”

Mr Wordsworth said the union accepted that there were probably not big numbers of farmers affected, but that was not the point.

“The numbers are irrelevant now. The fact is we’re at 19 May and some people have been ringing for weeks.”

An RPA spokesman said anyone who had not received an application form or maps should call the RPA helpline on 03000 200 301.