The CLA is encouraging farmers and landowners who are not online or have a slow internet connection to contact the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) by 14 October 2014 to avoid missing out on farm payments and to take advantage of a new package of help measures.
To apply for the Basic Payment Scheme in 2015 farmers must use the new Common Agricultural Policy Information Service, which means they must go online.
However, with many rural areas still unable to access a reliable broadband connection, the RPA has posted out a special “request for help” form to all claimants, which must be completed and returned by Tuesday 14 October.
CLA Midlands regional director Caroline Bedell said: “As part of its agenda to go digital by default, the Government will only be accepting online Single Payment requests from next year.
“Obviously this is not ideal as there are still many farmers and landowners throughout the region who don’t use the internet or have a very slow broadband connection. We are urging them to contact the RPA by 14 October so they don’t miss out on vital future payments.
“At least the RPA has acknowledged the problems and made some resource available to help farmers get online, including a rollout of regional digital support centres, which will offer one to one training sessions.
The CLA has been lobbying for improved broadband in rural areas for over ten years and is calling on Government to implement a Universal Service Obligation that will ensure every household can access a connection of at least two Mbps by 2015.