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Labour candidate puts agriculture on the agenda

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Léonie Mathers, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Sherwood, has written to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to raise the concerns of local farmers following chaotic problems with the Basic Payments System.

Ms Mathers, who is hoping to be the next MP for the Sherwood constituency, met with Notts NFU and local farmers this week to discuss their issues and priorities ahead of the election in May.

She was concerned to hear that catastrophic problems persisted with the Government’s new online system for claiming EU subsidies through the Rural Payments Agency, despite warnings from experts that the system was not ready to replace paper forms. 

The Secretary of State has this week announced a U-turn on the ban on paper returns, and told farmers they will be able to complete paper forms, but has not yet outlined the future of the multi-million pound online system. 

In response to the chaotic problems, the EU has offered a one month extension, which the Government is yet to accept. 

Léonie Mathers, Labour’s Candidate for Sherwood said: “It was great to meet with local farmers and hear about their priorities, but I was concerned to hear about the ongoing problems with the online system. Although there will be real relief at this U-turn and the switch back to paper forms, there are still questions this Government needs to answer about the steps they’re taking to make sure farmers won’t miss out.” 

Michael Payne, Labour’s Candidate for Newark, said: “Farmers here in Newark have been messed around by the Government for too long. Concerns were first raised weeks ago, and the deadline is looming.”

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