Deadline missed for RPA mapping update

One in five maps sent to farmers as part of a Rural Payments Agency review have been returned late, it has emerged.

Some 82,500 maps have been sent to farmers across England over the past four months after the agency embarked on a mapping update.

Altogether, 44,000 maps have now been returned, RPA policy manager Simon Lunniss told an NFU Council meeting on Tuesday (13 October).

Farmers returned 26,000 of the maps within the required 28-day deadline, he told delegates at Woodland Grange, Warwickshire.

The deadline had not been reached for the return of many maps, said Mr Lunniss, but some 8,500 remained overdue.

Only 80% of the maps had been returned within the required period.

The agency had, however, agreed 1500 extensions during the busy harvest period.

The production of “first” maps – asking farmers to confirm changes are correct – is expected to be completed by 31 October.

So far, some 29,500 maps have been agreed with no changes.

But 18,500 maps have required amendments.

Maps will be used to pre-populate 2010 Single Payment Scheme claim forms with relevant data where appropriate.

Agency officials believe this will simplify and speed up the application process.

They insist the agency remains on schedule to honour its pledge to meet the timetable for the 2010 application period.

Validation of 2009 claims is also running ahead of schedule.

As a result, more than 69,000 English farmers are expected receive their 2009 single payment this December – more than did so last December.