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Hill farmers could be short changed yet again

November 5, 2007 3:00 PM

Local MP Tim Farron has today been made aware of yet more evidence of maladministration at DEFRA concerning under-payment of the Hill Farm Allowance top-up, announced last month by Secretary of State Hilary Benn. Mr Benn announced that around £12m had been set aside to assist farmers who had lost out as a result of the foot and mouth outbreak this year. For HFA recipients, this top-up had been earmarked as 32% of their HFA payment. However Tim Farron has learned that one farmer who has been underpaid in his HFA payment would receive 32% of their incorrect payment, rather than 32% of the higher sum.

Despite acknowledging that the administrative mistake was theirs, and agreeing to correct the original payment, the Rural Payments Agency is still refusing to increase the top-up by the appropriate amount.

Tim Farron said:

"After all that farmers have been subjected to in recent years, this facile refusal to pay farmers the correct amount is outrageous. If the RPA admits that they are in the wrong, then they ought to be paying out the full amount, not ducking responsibility yet again.

"I will be writing to the Secretary of State today requesting clarification on whether this is the avowed policy of DEFRA, or just an isolated mix-up. After losing thousands of pounds already this year due to Government incompetence, this is the last thing farmers need."