NFU protests over single farm payment delays

Farm leaders are to write to the government in protest at continuing delays to single farm payments.

Despite prompt payments to English farmers last December, thousands of producers are still waiting to receive money – some of it from previous years.

NFU president Peter Kendall is writing to DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn about the issue, which is causing cash flows on farms.

It was important that ministers were made aware of delays caused by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), Mr Kendall said.

NFU single payment adviser Richard Wordsworth said a significant number of farmers had still not been paid in full for 2007 and 2008.

Transfers of entitlement remained an issue, he told an NFU Council meeting at Leamington Spa on Tuesday (26 January).

“We are pushing those cases through,” said Mr Wordsworth.

“The big problem is – and we see this time and time again – is the RPA computer system.”

Some 16,000 claims had still not been settled for 2009, Mr Wordsworth said.

At the same time, some 3000 upland claims continued to be reassessed and readjusted following changes to the moorland line as long ago as 2004.

Those farmers were waiting for payments because the RPA was tweaking land designations so they tallied with entitlements, Mr Wordsworth said.

“We are clearly putting a lot on pressure on the RPA because of this. We are not happy.”

The RPA said it was hoping to rectify the situation by the end of February, with payments sent out to farmers by the end of March.

But Mr Wordsworth said it remained to be seen whether this would be the case.

“We are receiving a lot of members who haven’t been paid and who are suffering cash flow problems.”

This was causing stress-related problems among farmers, as well as financial problems, Mr Wordsworth said.

It was unacceptable for problems to continue five years after the introduction of the single payment scheme, he added.

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