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    Minister acts to remove threat of penalties from farmers
05/05/06

Lord Bach today urged farmers to submit their 2006 Single Payment Scheme application to the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) by the 15 May deadline wherever possible. However, in recognition of difficulties this year in the distribution of application forms, he also announced that late claim penalties will not be applied to applications received between 15 and 31 May.

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Speaking at the Easy Sheep event in Melton Mowbray, Lord Bach said:

"After difficulties experienced this year, everybody wants payments under the 2006 Single Payment Scheme to start as early as possible. The timely submission of application forms is critical to that and I would, therefore, urge all farmers to continue to aim to meet the 15 May deadline. However, I know that there have been real problems this year with the distribution of forms and my regular discussions with farm leaders have brought home to me the difficulties that this has created for some farmers. I think it is right that every farmer should have a reasonable amount of time to complete the form. In recognition of this, I am today announcing that the normal late claim penalties will not apply until 1 June."

Notes:

1. Applications under the Single Payment Scheme, Area Payment for Nuts, Aid for Energy Crops, and Protein Crop Premium have to be submitted each year on a single form (SP5) to the Rural Payments Agency by 15 May.

2. Applications received by the RPA after 15 May usually attract a penalty of 1% per working day up to 9 June. Any applications received after 9 June are rejected.

3. The effect of today's announcement is that applications received between 16 and 31 May will not attract a late application penalty. Applications received after this date will attract the normal 1% per working day penalty.

4. Along with the acting chief executive of the RPA, Lord Bach has for the past couple of months met weekly with the Presidents of the NFU, CLA and TFA to discuss issues relating to the Single Payment Scheme. Today's announcement responds to concerns raised in those meetings.

link RPA’S handling of SPS payments a "tragedy”
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link Partial payments of SPS to be launched "as soon as operationally possible"
link NFU warning to Beckett over Single Payment disaster
link UK dairy farmers urged to treat SFP separately
link NFU calls on RPA to make immediate part payments to farmers

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Department for Environment
Food and Rural Affairs