10 April 1998

Lost subsidies prompt NFU to check genuine mistakes

BEING honest with the Welsh Office cost mid-Wales farmers Allen and Janet Powell £14,000 in lost subsidy payments.

The couple, who run beef and sheep at Guilsfield, Welshpool, had the money – two years worth of subsidies – withheld after they changed the farms trading title.

Mr and Mrs Powell started in business in 1993 under the trading title of A & J Powell after taking over the farm from his parents.

The couple informed the Welsh Office of the new trading name, and received acknowledgement that the details had been received.

But when 1993 suckler cow premium payment was late, Mr Powell rang the Welsh Office to ask why, only to be told that there were title problems and that the payment would not be made. He was also informed that the couple was too late to claim for the next year as well.

Mrs Powell, who contacted farmers weekly after reading of a similar case in Shropshire (News, Feb 26), said she couldnt understand why the Welsh Office did not notify them that there was a problem with their form in time to at least put the situation right for the following year.

Another farmer in Gwent, who asked not to be named, was appalled after having his subsidy withdrawn for a bull after notifying officials that he needed a new cattle identification document (CID) after realising the animal had the wrong eartag number.

"It was only after putting the bull through a crush before going to market that I noticed that it had the wrong number." he said. "But I informed the Divisional Office immediately, requesting a new CID. Meanwhile, I kept the animal on the farm."

Not only did MAFF withdraw the subsidy for the bull, but it also docked a third off the subsidy paid on the two other bulls that appeared on the original claim form.

"It certainly doesnt pay to be honest," he said, especially as he was later told that if he had reported the tag missing, a new one issued without any penalty.

"I am very tired of being treated as a potential criminal who has nothing else to do but sit in an office filling up increasingly complicated forms," he said.

The NFU said it was aware of many such problems and it was discussing the issue of genuine mistakes with MAFF. &#42

Allen and Janet Powell lost £14,000 in livestock subsidies through a genuine mistake.