Farming leaders unhappy about progress on SFP payments

Leaders of the three main farming organisations have expressed anger and dismay after a meeting with junior DEFRA minister Lord Bach and head of the Rural Payments Agency Mark Addison.

The NFU, Country Land and Business Association and Tenant Farmers Association say they were given no timetable for the delivery of the single payment to farmers and no guarantees that the process would be competed in a reasonable timescale.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting the three organisations said: “Although there were sure signs of improvements we remain deeply concerned at the lack of significant progress and the continued absence of quality information or any timetable.

“The RPA has taken a number of decisions in the last week, which have helped, but there is still no confidence the payment process will be completed in any reasonable timescale.

“We insisted on an answer to the question as to whether the computerised mapping system will ever work properly.

“The RPA promised to give an answer, and a technical briefing, in one week. The RPA and DEFRA informed us that a decision had been taken to prioritise the middle range of historical claimants, but refused to be drawn on an exact definition of this band.”

The three organisations have insisted that there must be a fully worked up contingency plan to pay 80% partial payments if their worst fears about payments are confirmed.

According to figures issued at the meeting, the RPA has now paid £206M to 27,860 claimants representing, respectively, 13% and 23% of the totals.

For more details of the steps the government has taken so far, see Farmers Weekly on Friday, 29 March.

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