Farmers gear themselves up for a difficult weekend of form-filling

Thousands of farmers still do not have an accurate picture of their single farm payment entitlements which has left many “terrified” about how to fill in their 2007 forms.

The 15 May deadline for SP5 applications is now just ten days away and many farmers are expected to tackle the paperwork over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Derrick Wilkinson, chief economist for the Country Land and Business Association, said people were finding it difficult because there were so many unresolved issues.

“Cashflow problems are nowhere near as bad as they were last year, but total confusion reigns,” he said.

“Thousands and thousands of people have no idea if their position is right. There are people still to agree maps and others who haven’t had an entitlements statement yet. They are terrified of how they should fill in this year’s form.”

NFU president Peter Kendall said he had warned ministers that things did not seems to be getting better at the RPA.

“We still have heaps of unanswered queries about 2005 payments and the complexity of dealing with three scheme years (2005, 2006 and 2007) is huge. This issue is of enormous concern to us – we’ve got to shut down at least one of the scheme years.”

Mr Kendall said he was also concerned that the RPA was only managing to get out about £20m/week in 2006 payments.

About £378m is still outstanding for the 2006 scheme year and there are about 10,000 claimants who have received no money at all.

“We’re getting very near to the point where 2006 payments could start to fall behind what was paid out at this time last year,” he said.

An RPA spokesman said: “We are not making predictions about payment rates up to the 30 June deadline. Ministers and the RPA have said consistently that the target is challenging, but we are working hard to achieve it.”

Dedicated teams were working to review the 2005 unresolved cases as quickly as possible, the spokesman added. “RPA’s strategy for dealing with unresolved cases is under constant review.”

Read FWi’s special report on the single payment scheme here.

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