Leaders of the three main farming organisations expressed anger
and dismay after a further meeting with food and farming minister
Lord Bach and head of the RPA Mark Addison today (Wednesday 29
March) on progress with the 2005 Single Payment Scheme (SPS).
At the meeting the NFU, CLA and TFA were given no timetable for
the delivery of the single payment to farmers and no guarantees
that the process would be competed in a reasonable timescale. Although
there were sure signs of improvements the three organisations remain
deeply concerned at the lack of significant progress and the continued
absence of quality information or any timetable. The RPA has taken
a number of decisions in the last week, which have helped, but
there is still no confidence the payment process will be completed
in any reasonable timescale.
The three organisations insisted on an answer to the question as
to whether the computerised mapping system will ever work properly.
The RPA promised to give an answer, and a technical briefing, in
one week. The RPA and DEFRA said that a decision had been taken
to prioritise the middle range of historical claimants, but refused
to be drawn on an exact definition of this band.
The three organisations insisted that there must be a fully worked
up contingency plan to pay 80% partial payments if their worst
fears are confirmed.”
TFA Chief Executive George Dunn said “The lack of statistical
information on how many new applications have been validated is
appalling. We were told on Monday that we would be fully briefed
with these figures today and we expressed our dissatisfaction to
the Minister and RPA Chief Executive that no figures were tabled.
We can only assume that little or progress has been made. If there
is not a significant improvement in performance by the time of
next weeks meeting the TFA will be asking for immediate partial
payments based on 80 per cent of the historical value of entitlements”.
The TFA is aware that DEFRA Secretary of State Margaret Beckett
has been attempting to distance herself and her Department from
any blame for the current problems. However the following list
of her decisions indicates that Mrs Beckett is firmly in the frame.
- Deciding on the most complicated system for implementing
the Single Payment Scheme against the advice of DEFRA officials,
RPA staff and the wider agricultural industry.
- Ignoring early warnings from the RPA about the problems caused
by delays in making policy decisions and the risks they faced
in the validation process.
- Pushing for early implementation of the SPS during a comprehensive
and complicated change programme in the RPA involving office
closures and many staff redundancies.
- Opening up the SPS to “non farmers” leading to
an extra 40,000 “pony paddock” applicants who all
needed mapping work even though they account for only 1 per cent
of the payment pot. Some of these new applicants will be paid
less than £1
- Launching new environmental schemes in the midst of SPS requiring
major RPA mapping work.
“When this debacle is over we want a full Inquiry into what
went wrong” said Mr Dunn.
and TFA Statement on Single Payments
Chief Sacked - So What Defra?
Shambles needs sorting out now