Mapping guarantee no good without money says Farron
A guarantee from the Rural Payments Agency that they will return disputed maps to farmers in Cumbria by the end of this month isn't enough to help farmers who are still waiting for their payments according to Liberal Democrat Farming Spokesperson Tim Farron MP.
Farmers in south Cumbria and north Lancashire appear to be at the very back of the queue for this year's payments after the RPA overcomplicated the mapping process they use to assess how money should be allocated to each farm. Ministers say that 85% of farm payments have been delivered across the country, and yet in south Cumbria it appears that only around 25% of farmers have received their payments.
This week, the RPA has confirmed they will be returning updated field maps to all farmers who sent in map changes within the requested 28-day timescale by the end of February.
Before Christmas, the Rural Payments Agency indulged in self-congratulation after they announced they had met their first formal 2009 Single Payment Scheme target six weeks ahead of schedule. However, Tim Farron has expressed his concern that the agency's "inexplicable inability" to finish the re-mapping process is preventing hundreds of farmers in south Cumbria and north Lancashire from getting their 2010 single farm payments.
Commenting Tim said:
"There's been a lot of back-slapping within the RPA over their recent success, but in reality this only tells half the story as hundreds of farmers in Cumbria and north Lancashire have been left without their farm payments.
"The RPA have promised to return all maps to farmers by the end of this month - but that still leaves hundreds of local farmers without their payments. The RPA should stop mucking around and give out interim payments to make sure no farmer is forced into bankruptcy because of RPA bureaucracy.
"The RPA could easily afford to pay 90% of the payment straight away and then the remaining 10% rest once they've sorted out any minor mapping discrepancies. At such a hard time economically, it's vital that farmers are given their farm payments effectively and on time."