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UK Dairy Farmers Losing Confidence Over SPS

05 August 2009
National Farmers Union

UK - The NFU has met with Jim Fitzpatrick, the Minister for Food, Farming and Environment, to raise concerns over the handling of the Single Payment Scheme.

NFU President Peter Kendall spoke to Mr Fitzpatrick about a number of issues including the performance targets set for the Rural Payments Agency for SPS 2009, those farmers still awaiting monies for 2008 SPS because of previous problems processing entitlement allocations, and on-going issues with the current Rural Land Register remapping exercise.

Mr Kendall said he was disappointed that, after five years of the SPS being in place, performance was still lagging behind the rest of Europe and delivery targets were not more ambitious.

"The targets set for the RPA for SPS 2009 are, disappointingly, the same as they were for 2008 - to have paid 75 per cent of the value of valid SPS claims by January 31 2010 and 90 per cent by March 31 2010. With severe financial problems and other commodity pressures being experienced by former Dairy Farmers of Britain milk producers, and pressures generally on milk prices, these targets do not give confidence to businesses planning ahead when credit is an issue.

"The problems of the past are still affecting far too many farmers and, with the threat from the CAP Health Check to bar correction of entitlements post January 1 2010, farmers still waiting for money from their 2008 claim needed to be sorted out well before 2009 payments started."

Mr Kendall said he was concerned that recent changes announced by the RPA regarding the current RLR remapping exercise were not going to solve all the problems that had been caused. These changes included the requirement for marker posts in situations where extensive areas of arable and upland were in multiple occupancy, and the needless changing of field references and the impact this would have on 2010 applications.

"We are worried that there are still situations where new RLR mapping is going to cause significant problems to farmers and growers and we urge Natural England as a matter of urgency to work with the RPA to allow those wishing to enter into ELS and the forthcoming UELS agreements not to need marker posts, by improving the capability of the Natural England software," Mr Kendall said.

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