Farm leaders disappointed over SPS decision

Farming leaders have said they are disappointed by DEFRA’s refusal to make partial SPS payments.

Farm minister Jim Paice gave a written statement to the House of Commons on Thursday (31 March) updating parliament on the Rural Payments Agency’s progress in making SPS payments.

The minister said partial payments had been ruled out because RPA analysis “suggests that this would not significantly increase the speed at which remaining claims are paid to farmers.”

But he said manual payments of validated claims will be made to speed things up.

NFU president Peter Kendall, who is himself still waiting to be paid, said the minister had acknowledged the frustrations felt by farmers still waiting for a 2010 SPS payment. 

“We are very disappointed that the RPA will not be making the partial payments that we asked for, but we welcome the news that the RPA will be making fully validated manual payments to around 2,000 farmers over the next two months. 

“We are pleased the RPA will be writing to farmers to tell them when they can expect a payment, but the RPA must make good on the promises it makes to farmers. 

“We will do everything we can to hold the RPA to account in respect of the time frames the minister has set out today.”

CLA president William Worsley said: “We accept the minister is having to deal with an appalling legacy and if refusing partial payments is the price for ensuring the RPA is turned around in the shortest possible time, then with considerable reluctance the CLA accepts that. 

“Nevertheless, both he and the RPA will be held to account if we do not see considerable improvements next year. Farmers cannot be expected to live on promises.”

TFA national chairman Jeremy Walker added: “The TFA is disappointed with the decision not to issue partial payments.  However, we welcome the plan to make around 2,000 manual payments, alongside a further 3,000 computer generated payments, between April and May coupled with letters to individual claimants which will provide some clarity as to when those payments will be received.”

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