NFU calls for RPA clarity on BPS 2016 applications

The NFU welcomes news that the RPA will be returning to digital applications for BPS 2016 but urges them to clarify the limitations of the online system and communicate these to farmers applying.

The NFU’s concerns come as it’s been revealed that some aspects of the application system – such as the amendments of fields – will not be fully online for this year. Farmers who applied online for SPS 2014 will be encouraged to apply online again but the NFU has said that these applicants must be aware of the pitfalls to avoid wasted time.

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “The online system’s limited capabilities need to be front and centre so farmers can make an informed choice. We support a paper and online combination approach but strongly believe that farmers should have the choice to do whatever works for them.We have been contacted by many of our members who are very keen they can return to making digital applications. While we fully support this progressive attitude we are adamant there should be no return to the ‘digital by default’ decision made in 2014 with no plan B paper backup.”

“We have less than a month to go until BPS applications open for 2016 and, scarred by last year’s IT failure, farmers will be concerned that we haven’t seen a full working system yet. This must not impact farmers’ time for hitting that May 16 deadline. And while our attention has been drawn to BPS 2016, we are very aware that there are farmers out there who haven’t been paid for BPS 2015. We are still pushing for these payments to go out as soon as possible. Farmers can’t move on until they’ve been paid, we are ensuring the RPA know that.”

The NFU is holding meetings across the country to offer members support and insight into the BPS 2016 application process.

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