The NFU has today expressed concerns about the RPA’s approach to its current remapping exercise, outstanding payments and poor communication with farmers as we head towards the 2017 payment window opening in December.
NFU Vice president Guy Smith has urged the RPA to up its game ahead of the inevitable increase in communications resulting from the current remapping exercise, and at the same time encourages NFU members to check their updated mapping in the coming weeks.
Mr Smith said: “The stretch on manpower at the RPA is continuing to impact on the service provided to our members. Due to a clear lack of resource, many farmers who have been trying to contact them over 2015 and 2016 claim issues going back as far as last spring, are only met with a wall of silence.
“The RPA seem to have undertaken a stealth policy which minimises outbound contact as much as possible. This seems self-defeating as it will only lead to more frustration and further inbound correspondence from farmers, which could be avoided.
“Back in the spring, the RPA launched a payment query form to help manage outstanding 2015 and 2016 claim queries, but our members continue to report to us that they have not seen any activity on the back of completing these forms.
“As we head to the 2017 payment window opening, we do not want unfinished 2015 and 2016 payment issues alongside a potential increase in communication over mapping changes. The RPA needs to issue 2017 payments correctly and in a timely manner, and if there are to be delays they must ensure that the affected parties are notified to help them manage the situation.
“NFU members are worried that incorrectly recorded data from the last two years will lead to further inaccuracy for this year’s BPS claims. The current remapping exercise could impact on not just BPS payments, but the impact on agri-environment schemes too. In the meantime, we encourage members to start checking any revised mapping now and to raise any concerns accordingly.
“Farming continues to endure challenging business conditions and can ill afford another 12 months of RPA double-handling claims to get payments right.
“We call on the RPA to up its game so that the same poor communications approach and claim issues of the pre-2017 BPS claims are not repeated.”