MPs voice concerns about SFPs

THE GOVERNMENT‘S decision to opt for a dynamic hybrid single farm payment system has raised a number of questions and concerns, according to MPs.

The environment, food and rural affairs select committee said it had been forced to conclude DEFRA‘s decision had been based on pragmatism and political expediency.

“We believe the government should have produced an in-depth study of the likely impacts of the various options for the SFP prior to making its decision about the scheme.

“We strongly recommend that it now speedily produces its promised analysis of the economic impacts of the model it has adopted,” it said in a report on Thurs (May 6).

The report, Implementation of CAP Reform in the UK, said the adoption of four different SFP systems in the UK will lead to distortions, particularly on the borders.

The devolved administrations should commission research into the likely effects of adopting different regimes, said the committee.

The government should also consider what help and support it could give to farmers who operate on either side of a border, it added.

Another issue raised by the committee was whether the Rural Payments Agency would be able to get the computer systems needed in place by January 2005.

Commenting on the report, Conservative shadow DEFRA secretary Theresa May said the uncertainty was completely unacceptable for farmers. 

“What is clear is that no-one has any faith in the rural payments agency to be able to cope with the changes,” she said. 

“Farmers face the prospect of a long wait for their money unless decisive action is taken.”