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Upland farmers highlight RPA worries

Upland farmers have told the RPA that their businesses could be compromised if the organisation continues to miss payment deadlines.



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Upland businesses could be compromised by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) continued failure to meet deadlines and honour its commitments.

 

That is what upland farmers told the RPA after highlighting the danger a delay in payments could be to their work.

 

NFU chairman Robin Milton said he was pleased RPA staff had met with them at NFU uplands forum to listen to their concerns, but warned how farmers could be forced to drop annual or seasonal commitments such as paying for feed and fertilisers or re-investing in the businesses without prompt payment.

 

“With the apparent inability of the RPA to meet deadlines or honour commitments farmers are rightly concerned and frustrated that empty promises will compromise their businesses,” Mr Milton said.

 

“We have been assured that cross checks have now taken place with Natural England for forthcoming stewardship funding.

 

“This should put Natural England and RPA in a place to allow initial 2016 Entry Level stewardship (ELS), Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) and Countryside Stewardship payments in the coming months."

 

Mr Milton said it was now important for the RPA to deal with remaining BPS payments as soon as possible.

 

“This includes adjustments to common land and to deliver BPS 2016 payments to all ahead of the 2017 application window opening next spring,” he added.

 

“It is absolutely critical that this work includes sorting out the backlog of common land claim issues that exist at this time.

 

“There is a need for increased transparency in future payment delivery with timely release of claim breakdown and also inspection data, which has been found wanting over recent months and vitally needed to help those farmers with underlying concerns at this point with their BPS 2015 payments.

 

“With the previous year having ongoing consequences in the short term, farmers cannot continue to run with these issues affecting their business.”

 

NFU Vice President Guy Smith added: “As the seemingly endless clear up operation from last year hopefully approaches a conclusion, focus now switches to the RPA’s promise that it will pay 90% of claims for this year by 31 December.

 

“While we are determined to hold the RPA to that promise, we are also clear that the 90% of payments must be accurate and that categories of claimants such as commoners who faced endless delays last time shouldn’t disproportionately feature in the 10% still unpaid by the end of the year."


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