Rural Payments Agency (RPA) quizzed over farm subsidy online applications system

Keith Wellings, Head of Insight and Improvements at the Rural Payments Agency, speaking at the CLA a

Keith Wellings, Head of Insight and Improvements at the Rural Payments Agency, speaking at the CLA and Larking Gowen Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) event on Thursday at Wingfield Barns, near Diss - Credit: Archant

Farmers and landowners got the chance to question the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) about the new online system for the Basic Payments Scheme at an event at Wingfield, near Diss, on Thursday.

Head of insight and improvements Keith Wellings addressed more than 60 delegates at Wingfield Barns who had been grappling with mapping all of their land and each of its features digitally for the first time.

Admitting that the system was still being updated continuously, Mr Wellings said the RPA had not been able to import all data from the Rural Land Register. “One in 10 things”, including features such as tracks and land parcels, were missing, but he expected this to be rectified over the next fortnight.

“If something is missing, log it with the RPA, come out of the system and return to it a week later to check it’s there,” he told delegates at the event, organised by Country Land and Business Association (CLA) East.

He also said that catch and cover crops, which count towards Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) greening rules, could not currently be mapped, but this option would be available soon.

An onscreen EFA estimator would be rolled out, but he could not offer a fixed date for implementation, he added.

The CLA said it was working closely with the RPA to iron out difficulties.

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The organisation, which represents thousands of farmers, landowners and rural businesses across the eastern region, said it was essential to avoid the administrative turmoil seen during the last CAP reform implementation. Its representatives are meeting the RPA on a weekly basis.

The event, sponsored by Larking Gowen, also focused on cover crops with presentations from Ron Stobart of NIAB TAG and Paul Brown of King’s Seeds.

They gave delegates an overview of the benefits of these crops grown primarily for the purpose of protecting or improving soil between periods of regular crop production.