It will soon be quicker and easier for farmers to apply for single farm payments thanks to a new integrated online payment system, DEFRA has announced.
From scheme year 2015, DEFRA will introduce a single computer system for all Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding in England, irrespective of the delivery body the funding was claimed through.
Under the new system, farmers will only have to enter their details once online to a single point of contact rather than for each CAP scheme they apply for.
It will also reduce running costs, improve targeting of farm inspections and make it easier to adapt to future changes, DEFRA said.
Farm minister David Heath said: “CAP programmes will probably change considerably over the coming years and we’re making sure we’re in the best possible shape to deal with this change.
“Having one modern, fit-for-purpose system will make it far quicker and easier for farmers to apply for funding and improve targeting of inspections.”
Mr Heath added that the new system was a genuine example of DEFRA’s commitment to cut red tape on the ground for farmers, in line with recommendations made in the independent Farming Regulation Task Force, a 200-point plan to cut red tape.
As well as the single payment scheme, there are currently 40 different CAP schemes. These are paid out under different computer systems by DEFRA, the Rural Payments Agency, Natural England and the Forestry Commission.
Subject to the outcome of the current negotiations on CAP reform, each agency will phase in the new system from 2014, ready for scheme year 2015. The work is one of the first programmes within the government’s new digital strategy.
DEFRA is working to ensure that the system is “cost effective, flexible and, above all, easy for customers to use”.