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Report cover showing a harvester in a field

DEFRA: A progress update in resolving the difficulties in administering the Single Payment Scheme in England

“Since my report over a year ago on the implementation of the Single Payment Scheme, the Rural Payments Agency has made encouraging progress in remedying the problems I highlighted, as demonstrated by an increase in farmers’ satisfaction with the handling of their claims.

“But, until the Agency is in the position consistently to meet the June deadline each year and can process payments within an acceptable tolerance of error, the risk is that farmers’ confidence in the scheme will wane and the European Commission will levy financial penalties.”

Published:
12 Dec 2007
Report cover showing farmland

The delays in administering the 2005 Single Payment Scheme in England

“In paring back the work required to get the single payment scheme ready on time, the Agency underestimated the effort involved in processing claims, but also left itself without the management information it needed to take control of the situation. As a result, many farmers faced unacceptable delays before getting their money and the Agency made mistakes in paying out the correct amount. Unpicking what has gone wrong will take some time.

“Foremost among the Agency’s priorities now must be to determine if the administrative and computer systems for mapping land and processing claims are really up to the job. Until that happens, there is little prospect the problems will be remedied in time to deal with the 2006 claims.”

Published:
18 Oct 2006
Report cover showing a silhouette of a man on a tightrope with EU and Union flags in the background

Lost in Translation? Responding to the Challenges of European Law

“European laws form a large part of Defra’s work and getting transposition wrong can be costly for government and industry and lead to environmental damage and other adverse effects. Defra has made improvements, particularly in the field of programme and project management, and can point to a number of successful cases on which to build. There is still scope for Defra to improve the overall quality and timeliness of transposition and taking steps such as increased senior level oversight of the process and giving stakeholders as much certainty as possible will help the department to achieve better and more consistent results. “

Published:
26 May 2005
Report cover showing cows grazing

Foot and Mouth Disease: Applying the Lessons

“The 2001 outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease was devastating not only for many farmers but also for the wider rural community. Continued vigilance is therefore essential. Defra is now much better prepared than in 2001, but still has work to complete, for example to develop a new compensation system for culled animals; to determine how the costs of controlling future livestock disease outbreaks should be borne; to link its central government contingency plans with those of local agencies; and to update Information Technology support for future disease outbreaks.”

Published:
2 Feb 2005
Cover of report showing vegetable stall

Helping Farm Businesses in England

“Farming remains an important business in the UK, employing some 530,000 people and generating over £8 billion a year in income. Many farm businesses face an uncertain future, and Defra’s efforts to find innovative ways to help them adapt to new realities should be encouraged. My report considers good practice emerging in other countries, and makes recommendations as to how the Department can use this experience to improve its efforts to help farmers adapt to the commercial marketplace.”

Published:
16 Sep 2004
Report cover showing herd of cows

Identifying and Tracking Livestock in England

“Information on the movement of animals around the country is of vital importance in the fight to prevent the spread of animal disease, all the more so when there is a serious outbreak. It is also vital to consumers confidence in the food that they eat. The animal identification and tracking systems in place at present have helped to protect public health but both systems are in need of improvement.

“For both of its current systems and in the implementation of its new Livestock Identification and Tracing Programme, Defra should work with the livestock industry to improve levels of data accuracy and encourage the use of online methods of communicating information.”

Published:
12 Nov 2003
Report cover showing Colorado Beetle larvae eating potato leaves

Protecting England and Wales from plant pests and diseases

“The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has a key role to play in maintaining the high international reputation for plant health possessed by England and Wales. But increasing trade and travel, new farming practices and climate change increase the risk of new plant pests and diseases being introduced and spreading here. The Department should now take steps to improve its plant health inspection regime and research and how it works with others, to keep new and emerging threats at bay.”

Published:
23 Oct 2003