Government needs robust IT system to ease CAP transition, says NFU

Members' organisation will hold workshops throughout the North East, seeking the views of farmers and offering advice on changes

NFU vice president Guy Smith
NFU vice president Guy Smith

Workshops on CAP are to be held in the North East, helping farmers in the region get to grips with changes - including alterations to how payments are administered.

The NFU says it is critical the Government proves it has a robust new IT system in place from next year to ease the transition.

Throughout the coming months, it will be discussing the issue with thousands of members, gauging their opinions and offering advice on the process.

Vice president Guy Smith said: “Our initial impression is that members understand that the new application system will be very different and more complex but many of them are clearly haunted by memories from ten years ago when it wasn’t the farmer applicants that were found wanting but the systems put in place by DEFRA and the RPA.

“In the next six months or so, farmers and growers will be grappling with the new rules, a new registration process and an online-only system of applying for payments.

“It is clear that farmers and growers are seeking reassurances from Defra.

“No-one should underestimate the challenges faced in switching to the new system.”

Mr Smith said the message from members so far had been clear - that they were getting to grips with the policy, but needed to know more about what it will mean in practical terms and when action needs to be taken.

In particular they were anxious to see the new Government Gateway registration process go live and felt frustrated that they were still waiting.

“The new CAP will mean changes for all applicants and everyone will need time to adapt to that system, particularly to understand what additional information is required when it comes to greening,” Mr Smith said.

There were two key factors, he added, that would go some way to helping the situation - firstly, that SPS 2014 claim validation is completed swiftly and, secondly, that the RPA be given the resources to ensure it can have sufficient numbers of trained staff in place to help with the transition.

“The NFU has worked closely with Defra and the RPA on implementation and will continue to do so,” he said.

“We are pleased that the effort, resources, and engagement surrounding the IT is unrecognisable from the challenges we experienced as England shifted towards the flat rate in the last reform.

“However, only the mass rollout will truly test if what has been built is fit for purpose and time is running out for them to get the tools in place for this to happen.

“Next May seems a long way off, but given the enormity of this challenge we really would like to see significant progress on registration before the end of the year.”

Roadshow workshops catering for North East farmers will take pace on November 10 at the York NFU office, beginning at 8:30am; at Willington in North Durham, beginning a 1pm; and at Kirkley Hall, Northumberland, beginning at 7pm.

A second round will then take place on November 18 at the Skipton NFU office, beginning at 9am; at the Golden Fleece, Thirsk, beginning at 12:30pm; and at the Stokesley AGM venue, beginning at 7pm.

To book at place at an event, contact the NFU North East office on 01904 451 550.

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