MAFF surveys – bureaucracy gone mad

10 September 1999

MAFF surveys – bureaucracy gone mad

By Robin Cradock

CLEVELAND farmer Tony Wilson believes he is a victim of MAFF "bureaucracy gone mad".

In the past two years he has had two MAFF surveys of the 25 fields at his Old Wingate Farm, Trimdon Station. Both times the result has been a change in the field acreages.

Reduced area

Last years adjustment, which reduced the total field area compared with Mr Wilsons calculation, meant the farm received £3116 less in IACS payments.

But, having then used the new MAFF field areas as the basis for this years IACS claim, Mr Wilson was told that inspectors would be round to do another check.

After five days of surveying, the ministry pronounced that they were changing the acreages of 14 of the 25 fields.

"This really is a case of bureaucracy gone mad," said Mr Wilson.

"MAFF are disagreeing with their own figures of last year, which they produced and I accepted, even though it cost me money.

"What gets to me is that this year they wont agree with their own figures of 12 months ago. How can we as farmers cope with this?"

By spending five days re-surveying Mr Wilsons farm, the forage hectarage he should have claimed for has been assessed upwards from 20.57ha (50.8 acres) to 21.33ha (52.7 acres), while the arable area increased by almost 50%, from 64.18ha (158.6 acres) claimed to 93.88ha (231.9 acres) found.

Unfortunately for him only the area claimed for will be eligible for payment this year, not the additional acreage that MAFF has now calculated.

A spokesman for the MAFF Regional Service Centre at Northallerton said no comment could be made on individual cases.

Cropped areas

But the point to consider was that IACS claims had to relate to cropped areas, rather than field boundaries. Equally, there could be areas which may be eligible when in forage, but not in arable cropping.

"The onus is on the farmer to ensure that the areas for which he claims are accurate. But if a farmer believes an area has been incorrectly assessed we are always happy to meet and discuss the situation with him, and if necessary the regional director will review the situation," the spokesman said.

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