NFU : English farmers paying the price for Government incompetence - again

UK - A part payment to farmers in England has been announced by the Defra Secretary of State David Miliband who said SPS claimants will receive at least 50 per cent of their payments by the end of February.
calendar icon 7 November 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
But NFU President Peter Kendall, President of the Country Land and Business Association David Fursdon, and Reg Haydon, national chairman of the Tenant Farmers’ Association, fear it is too little too late for many farmers and say the rural economy is continuing to pay the price for Government incompetence.

In a joint statement the NFU, CLA and TFA said: “This confirms our worst fears about the ability of the RPA to deliver 2006 single payments. We have strongly argued for a part payment and for a clear timetable, so to that extent, we are relieved David Miliband has listened to our case.

“However this still leaves much of the industry in financial difficulties and we are very disappointed the payment is less and later than we wanted. We do recognise ministers’ determination not to make promises they cannot keep, but we sincerely hope this really is the worst case scenario and in practice more than 50 per cent will be paid earlier than the end of February.”

The three organisations are continuing to urge the RPA to improve its performance, but additional accounting complications this year mean fines for making incorrect payments without all due checks and processes will result in Defra being fined rather than central government.

The NFU, CLA and TFA said: “This is an unfair double hit on the rural community. First, the single payment is paid late, affecting not only farmers but dependent businesses and the wider rural community. Then Defra’s budget is cut to the tune of £200m, which impacts on vital issues like flood defence, land drainage, animal health and the environment.

“Since David Miliband has been at Defra we have welcomed his assurances that he will do everything to ensure fair terms of competition for our farmers. We recognise he is a victim of the system he inherited. However we need to be assured the lessons of the past have been learned. We are all acutely aware these problems could cause on-going delays in payments into 2008 and we have asked Defra to share a detailed action plan with us to ensure this is the last year we suffer from this kind of blatant disadvantage to our industry.” News Desk

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