Entitlements – check with care

Farmers in England are being urged to check carefully their entitlement letters from the Rural Payments Agency to see if
they have validated or provisional entitlements.

It has emerged that up to 60,000 producers could be allocated unvalidated entitlements because the RPA, which plans to start issuing letters on 14 February, has not managed to finish all of its necessary checks.

Producers with provisional entitlements will find themselves further down the payment queue, because they cannot be paid until validation has been completed.

Farm leaders are also warning that farmers will face risks if they are involved in the transfer of any unvalidated entitlements.

An RPA spokesman said he could not confirm how many people would be affected because the position was fast moving and claims were being cleared all the time.

He added: “The accuracy of the entitlement calculation will nonetheless be very high at the point of definitive establishment.

Most of the outstanding validation tasks only relate to a small part of a farmer’s claim and so the risk to the accuracy of the overall calculation associated with most of the outstanding applications is very low.”

But David Fursdon, president of the Country Land and Business Association, said he was concerned that a high proportion of entitlements would not be validated.

“If the entitlement statements are not validated, then they can be traded, but farmers and land managers must be aware that, if subsequently they are not validated, the RPA has the right to just take them back.”