Farmers are being caused ‘considerable stress’ by newly-created errors on the Rural Payment Agency mapping database which could have an impact on payment delivery.
Despite the RPA carrying out extensive work on improving mapping, the NFU has uncovered an ‘unacceptable level’ of errors over the last few weeks which farmers are expected to correct themselves.
The union claimed the mistakes were being made because RPA officers had, in some cases, misinterpreted satellite imagery.
Other farmers are finding their fields have been incorrectly merged with their neighbour’s land, even where there are defined boundary lines, or fields are missing altogether.
NFU vice president Guy Smith said: “This is all causing considerable stress to farmer applicants who are expected to correct what was originally correct in the first place through the RLE1 process.
“Our demand going forward is where changes are being made to the mapping database which are not the result of an applicant request, the applicant is informed of the change by e-mail with an explanation as to why. They should also be given a period of time to notify the RPA if they think the change is not correct.
“If this approach had been taken over the last year, we would not have seen many of the issues we have heard about in recent weeks.”
Mr Smith also said there needed to be better two-way communication between the RPA and the farmer.
Though the union was unable to provide figures for the number of farmers affected by the latest mapping errors, the problem was thought to be significant enough to cause issues further down the line.
“It is key mapping is sorted out to ensure past and future payments are correct”, Mr Smith added.
“With so many loose ends at this time, with outstanding 2015 and 2016 post-payment corrections, the last thing anyone wants is the RPA having to carry out remedial mapping changes which could have been avoided in the first place.”
An RPA spokesperson said BPS 2017 applications must check maps covering their land are correct and claim based on the position on the ground on May 15 2017.