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CLA and TFA Statement on Single Payments
23/03/06

farmland

The President of the Country Land and Business Association, David Fursdon and the National Chairman of the Tenant Farmers Association, Reg Haydon today issued the following joint statement in the midst of the deepening cash crisis in agriculture caused by the failure of DEFRA and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to keep to their promised timetable for delivering payments under the Single Payments Scheme (SPS).

"We are astonished and dismayed at the lack of progress being made by the RPA on making payments to hard pressed farm businesses. The stress and anxiety that is being caused to a significant number within the farming community is reaching worrying levels. Both our organisations are receiving an increasing number of calls from distressed individuals who simply can't tighten their financial belts any further.

We will be telling DEFRA Minister Lord Bach in a meeting this afternoon that having changed the leadership of the RPA it is vital that there is an urgent statement explaining how matters are to be improved. Without swift action we will see the whole sector grind to a halt and it will be impossible to even start rebuilding the lost trust between farmers who feel rightly let down and the Government.

In a joint statement between our two organisations last autumn, we urged landlords and tenants to discuss any problems that might arise through delays to payments particularly in relation to rent. We are pleased to report that we are unaware of any situations were landlords and tenants have not been able to reach sensible compromises in the face of the inevitable cash flow difficulties caused by payment delays. However, as we are approaching the traditional period for making spring rent payments we believe we should reiterate some of the earlier advice.

Landlords and tenants affected by late SPS payments should act reasonably. Landlords should not react by automatic service of formal notices and tenants should not expect the rent automatically to be deferred or waived. This is an issue of cash flow for both parties and should be handled through dialogue. Where rent is being deferred by agreement it might also be the case that some landlord's expenditure on repairs and improvements may have to be deferred until the rent income becomes available.

Arrangements need to be put in place for the mutual benefit of both parties. Rent should be paid when due unless there is full and open disclosure of the position, and an agreed solution. At the same time, where parties have been in discussion, the occasion of late payments should not be exploited for individual gain. The delay in SPS payments should not be used by either side to justify long standing disputes.

The CLA and TFA are ready and willing to advise members facing specific problems.

link RPA Chief Sacked - So What Defra?
link SPS Shambles needs sorting out now
link CLA Slams Rural Payments Agency

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