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CLA internet access call over online payment plans for farmers
12:21pm Wednesday 22nd February 2012 in Farming news
FARMERS and landowners in the North must have access to a reliable broadband connection before plans to push all farm payment applications online are carried out, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has warned.
The association says that plans unveiled by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to abolish paper-based Single Payment applications by 2015 will penalise hundreds of CLA members still struggling with slow broadband or dial-up connections.
CLA North regional director Dorothy Fairburn said: “This move by the RPA is an example of the Government and its agencies saving their own costs without appreciating that a significant number of rural businesses do not have the broadband connectivity required.
“Until the Government can guarantee a quality broadband service for everyone, they simply cannot force farmers and landowners in the ‘internet slow lane’ to waste hours of their already pressed time trying to fill in forms online.”
The CLA is lobbying to ensure that every household can access a broadband connection of at least 5Mbps. The association estimates that up to a third of the country – predominantly in rural areas – still cannot access a fast and reliable broadband service.