DEFRA MUST RESPOND TO DEVASTATING EFRA REPORT SAYS CLA
"DEFRA and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) should read this report carefully and heed its recommendations," said Dorothy Fairburn, regional director of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) in Yorkshire following the publication today (Thursday 29 March) of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee report into the RPA's implementation of the Single Payment Scheme.
Miss Fairburn continued: "It provides an excellent account of the managerial bungling that caused the fiasco with the launch of the single farm payment.
"The report highlights the uncertainties and in some cases the sheer lack of advice provided by the RPA during the early days of the new system. Nevertheless, many of the farmers who also had to grapple with a new system and relied on RPA advice were penalised heavily for even the smallest of errors during the application process.
"The RPA originally said they would 'take a light touch' to minor infractions, but instead we have seen a consistently heavy-handed approach. Failure to make payments on time, poor communication, disproportionate penalties and an appeal system that remains fundamentally flawed have shattered confidence in both DEFRA and the RPA who must now publish a comprehensive reply to this report, demonstrating that they have learned from their many mistakes.
"Although there are signs of improvement at the RPA, much remains to be done, and we will have to see how they cope with the further changes to the Single Farm Payment expected by 2009," concluded Miss Fairburn.
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A farmer’s daughter from the North York Moors, where her brothers still farm, Dorothy has clocked up more than 30 years’ service to the rural economy since graduating from Wye College (University of London) with a degree in agriculture.
She qualified as a rural practice chartered surveyor (land agent) whilst working for Savills plc in London and York, dealing with sales and purchases of country houses and estates as well as the management of investment estates for financial institutions.
Prior to joining the CLA, Dorothy worked for the National Trust in Yorkshire. There she managed some 30,000 acres of outstanding countryside as well as being responsible for historic houses open to the public and the acquisition of major new properties.
Dorothy was awarded an MBE in the 2011 New Year Honours List in recognition of her services to rural affairs.
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