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Defra forced to return £200million in farm payments to EU

May 13, 2009 12:00 AM

Figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed that Defra has been forced to return more than £200 million to the European Union over the last five years for breaches of the UK's Common Agricultural Policy requirements.

A parliamentary question tabled by Liberal Democrat Shadow Defra Secretary Tim Farron MP revealed that the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has had "financial corrections" totalling £200,456,000 imposed by the European Commission since 2004-5

Most of that figure came in a £140,475,000 correction applied in 2008-9, in part for failing to meet payment deadlines in regard to the 2005 Single Payment Scheme.

Commenting Tim Farron said:

"The enormous cost to the British taxpayer and to our farmers of the Government's failure to issue payments promptly is now clear for all to see.

"Single farm payments are there to support farmers and allow them to produce food and cope with a market that is staggeringly unfair.

"It's completely unacceptable that farmers dependent on single farm payments to keep a roof over their heads had to wait for months because of mistakes made by the Rural Payments Agency.

"The Rural Payments Agency needs to be radically overhauled so that funds are quickly delivered to our hard working and hard pressed farmers."