19th November 2015
Potential delays in the single farm payments could cause problems for farmers over the festive season and beyond. This was the message articulated to South West Conservative MEP, Ashley Fox, when he met with Dairy Farmers in Somerset.
During the meeting, arranged by the NFU, Ashley and local farmers discussed a wide range of concerns - milk prices, the level of regulation, Countryside Stewardship schemes and the IT problems at DEFRA.
"Last year, most farmers applied online, then they introduced new software, it didn't work and now it's all paperwork again," argues local farmer Tom Jones. "We now seem to spend an age colouring in maps and filling in forms, only to be told that 'due to circumstances beyond our control our payments will be delayed'. We normally receive our payments on the 1st of December, now we are told that whilst the RPA plan to pay the majority of us by the end of December, for some it will be into the New Year."
Ashley Fox, commenting after the meeting, "This latest problem could cause a real cash flow problem for some farmers who are already getting paid less than the cost of production for their goods. I believe that the whole sector needs as much help as possible, it certainly doesn't need additional burdens being heaped upon them, and certainly not at this time of year. I have written to the Minister asking him to ensure that an interim payment scheme be put into place to ensure that no farmer suffers over this latest DEFRA glitch.”