NFU vice president Stuart Roberts has said the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is not the right body to oversee supply chain issues.
The recently-published Agriculture Bill has set out plans to regulate contracts with all sellers of agricultural produce, and Ministers are known to be considering giving the RPA the power to police any potential breaches.
But speaking on Farmers Guardian’s latest Ploughing Through Brexit podcast, Mr Roberts suggested the agency’s time would be better spent focusing on the ‘day job’ of getting farm payments out.
“I think the clue is in the title – Rural Payments Agency,” he said.
“For me, I do not see them as being the body with the expertise. I feel building on the foundation of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) probably feels better, I think that is probably more appropriate.
“There are going to be a fair degree of payments in whatever form going forwards, in which case we may want the RPA to be focusing on doing that day job, rather than picking up additional areas when there are other parts of Government which could potentially pick these up better.”
Mr Roberts is not the first industry leader to call for the GCA to take on the new responsibilities.
TFA chief executive George Dunn has expressed similar views, but officials are understood to believe the GCA’s role in regulating the ‘small but important’ network of large retailers is very different to the bigger job created by the Agriculture Bill.
Defra has not yet made any decisions on whether the RPA may need extra cash in order to carry out its new duties.
To listen to the podcast and find top Brexit analysis from industry leaders, academics, politicians and farmers, visit www.fginsight.com/brexit.