The National Beef Association has called on Defra to either dismantle the bureaucratic barricades, which surround modulation money, compulsorily given up by farmers to finance the stuttering English Rural Development Programme (ERDP) - or immediately reduce the percentage of modulation funding being stripped from a farmers’ Single Farm Payment (SFP).
The NBA believes, too much of the CAP Pillar Two funding, administered by the Rural Development Agency, and other distributory agencies employed to assist with the ERDP, is inaccessible to individual farmers and the accumulation of funds will almost certainly be removed from English coffers through a hefty fine from the European Commission, if Defra fails to realign the programmes and its funding, when the financing of the 2005-2012 Rural Development Programme ends in 2015.
“The NBA calls on Defra to reduce the percentage of modulation, which at 12 per cent is an EU record, so that fewer funds are removed from the much needed Pillar One support, to allow farmers to make their own business investment choices without jumping through ERDP bureaucratic hoops. It is absurd to strip such a high proportion of modulation off farmers’ single farm payment, just to make a refund back to the European Commission,” explained NBA director, Kim Haywood.
The Rural Development Agency is already aware of the NBA’s disappointment that many farm businesses that can benefit from RDP funding find the layers of bureaucracy surrounding each project application too difficult to overcome.
“When the RDP was being constructed in 2003-2004, the Association made clear its worries that too much money would be soaked up by administration within the RDA, Natural England, and other distributors – and that the army of costly consultants and advisors, that has also been installed, would complicate project applications as well,” said Ms Haywood.
“But even in its most pessimistic moments the Association never thought that as early as 2010, the National Audit Office (NAO) would be warning Defra that it could be forced to refund a potentially vast proportion of the £3.9 billion RDP budget if the current proportion of unused funds remained unspent.”
“Defra has confirmed that much of the £420 million funding earmarked for the Organic Entry Level Stewardship Scheme remains unspent.”
“However this is only one example of the depth to which Defra has either over calculated the need for Pillar two funding, and overcharged farmers through excessive modulation, or erected an unworkable administration system to oversee the RDP’s construction,” Ms Haywood added.
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