Rural payments row submissions go up to the wire

Confusion has marked the final days of efforts by producer organisations to be re-recognised by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), which administers EU grants to the fresh produce sector.

The RPA suspended 17 out of 39 organisations on the scheme last year, claiming they were in breach of Fresh Fruit & Vegetables Aid Scheme requirements and giving them until last week to submit evidence of having made sufficient changes to be re-admitted.

But evidence was still being submitted right up to the deadline of midnight on 9 August from five unnamed organisations that were in danger of being dropped from the scheme, according to an RPA representative.

"We are listening to representations up to the wire," she said, adding: "We don't have the final say (on re-admittance) - that needs ministerial sign-off."

Earlier, external relations director Sharon Ellis defended the RPA's handling of the affair. "It's not just in the UK. Other member states have seen disallowances," she said. "The 22 compliant organisations have continued to trade successfully and get more than £26m a year.

"That's good for the industry and the economy and we want to protect that. But we had a duty to the taxpayer to ensure we had robust evidence to show the European Commission's auditors."

The RPA will meet the auditors shortly "to convince them there are no further shortcomings", she said, adding: "The commission is consulting until September on how the scheme is run in future, as part of the reform of the common agricultural policy, and we encourage the industry to engage with that."


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Is a post-Brexit seasonal worker scheme now impossible?

Is a post-Brexit seasonal worker scheme now impossible?

The UK fresh-produce sector has reacted with dismay at the latest developments in the ongoing debate, largely conducted out of public view, on whether UK horticulture will still have access to seasonal migrant workers when the UK leaves the EU in 18 months' time.

Can UK fresh produce come out of Brexit ahead?

Can UK fresh produce come out of Brexit ahead?

UK production horticulture can become more profitable under one possible Brexit scenario, while other more drastic scenarios will lead to only minor losses in profitability, a new report argues.

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

An effective strategy to retain staff is the best way for any business to avoid a potential recruitment crisis, Neville Stein advises.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production
 

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon