NFU responds to Rural Payments Agency review

Industry leaders have set out their vision on how to improve the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) but welcomed news that £1.3bn has been paid out since 1 December.

The NFU said it had submitted its formal response to a review of the RPA announced by Defra in September. It told the Government to focus on creating a "first-class paying agency farmers can trust to get their claims right".

However, it praised the agency last week on news that 86,500 English growers and farmers had already received their single payment scheme money for 2009.

More than £1.3bn has been handed out since the payment window opened on 1 December. But the industry must not be complacent, warned the NFU, Tenant Farmers Association and Country Land & Business Association.

In its response to Defra, the NFU called for a "streamlined" agency dedicated to its core function of paying cash and a fully-functioning electronic channel for claim submission.

In September, farming minister Jim Fitzpatrick said the review would ensure that the RPA could react to changes to the common agricultural policy due in 2013.

Meanwhile, the NFU is calling on members to respond to rural land register maps issued to ensure that land data is correct before next year's claims. "We urge all those who haven't already done so to respond to the RPA to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays in receiving payments in 2010," said a representative.

Farmers claiming for the single payments, environmental stewardship or English woodland grant schemes are all required to register their land.

- Growers are still waiting for news on the RPA's suspension of payments to UK producer organisations while Defra reviews policy on the issue of shared facilities (Grower, 4 December).

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