NFU Vice President Guy Smith
Financial pressures facing the farming industry have been exacerbated by the poor delivery of BPS, threatening food production.
That’s the verdict from the NFU following the publication of Public Accounts Committee report today. Along with an EFRA committee report, also released today, the findings strengthen calls from the NFU for the RPA to commit to timely payments and better, less ambiguous, communication.
The NFU added that trialing the online application system highlighted the serious problems associated with unreliable, and in some cases non-existent, rural broadband and put administrative burdens onto farmers when it failed.
NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “Farmers are working in a volatile world where market prices and weather have the power to make their businesses unprofitable almost instantaneously. British food production relies on this support to provide affordable, wholesome food to the growing population.
“No-one knows the real impact of CAP delivery going wrong better than farmers. Cash-flow problems have been both caused and made worse by the payments delays. And, to top this off, the communication from the RPA to farmers has been shambolic – farmers have largely been left in the dark on when their payment is going to come through.
“At the moment there are still farmers who haven’t been paid despite promises to pay the vast majority of claims by the end of January. We are urging the RPA to tie off all of the 2015 payments so RPA resources can focus on BPS 2016 applications.
“We are on the eve of the rollout of the 2016 application process and the industry cannot afford any problems in the coming weeks. We are working to a May 16 deadline and there can be not slippage - if there are any problems, the RPA needs to be honest with industry.
“It’s essential that next year the RPA works to the recommendation of the EFRA committee and delivers 90 per cent of payments by the end of December. This is now a line in the sand for what payment timeframe is acceptable and one which the RPA cannot ignore.”