Farming leaders unite to call for immediate interim SFPs

The NFU, Tenant Farmers Association and Country Land and Business Association have called for immediate interim single farm payments to be paid.

Following a depressing meeting with the head of the Rural Payments Agency, Mark Addison, the three organisations have demanded the introduction of a system of part payments as soon as possible.

In a statement, the groups said the RPA had confirmed it was preparing a plan for part payments, but could give no comfort that it would be done quickly.

But the three organisations insisted on the urgency of getting payments out and offered to have technical discussions with DEFRA and the RPA in an effort to ensure that a part payment system meets the requirements of both farmers and government.

NFU president Peter Kendall said: “After three of these meetings I am depressed and frustrated at the lack of any meaningful progress and the absence of any crumb of comfort for the majority of farmers who remain unpaid.

“In the circumstances I have no alternative but to demand that part payments are made in respect of unpaid claims at the earliest possible opportunity.”

CLA president David Fursdon added:  “The speed with which government acts and gets payments out will be an indication of how much they understand the problems faced by farmers and all those who depend on them within the wider rural economy.”

TFA national chairman Reg Haydon said “This is the most depressing of the three meetings that we have had so far between the three farming organisations and Mr Addison. 

“The figures presented to us today show an unacceptable degree of progress on last week’s position.  At the current rate of validating claims [2000 in the last week] it will take another months to clear the backlog.

“Mr Addison told us that the managerial and systems changes he has already announced will not show their worth for a number of weeks.  I made it clear that tenant farmers cannot wait that long.”

An RPA statement said its number one priority remained making full SPS payments as fast as legally possible. 

Over the past week, the RPA has been implementing several changes in order to further increase the rate of SPS payments. These include:
•         dedicating staff to work on individual claims
•         joining up staff working on mapping issues with those involved in the processing of claims
•         directing staff to make direct telephone contact with customers to resolve outstanding queries wherever possible;
•         introduction of a two hectare / 3% discrepancy tolerance (whichever is less) for the validation of claims;
•         redeployment of staff previously used for inefficient quality-checking to claim processing;
•         agreement to retain experienced staff, including 120 currently working on cattle tracing staff, to focus on SPS processing;
“The effect of these changes will only be become apparent over the coming weeks.  In the meantime, the RPA is developing a partial payment system which could be implemented if a further increase in the rate of payments is not achieved.”


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