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MPs issue slow broadband warning over payments to farmers

Wednesday, January 8th 2014 by Dean Reilly
Slow broadband could stop farmers accessing CAP payments, warn MPs

The move to digital CAP payments could hamper farmers without access to fast broadband, MPs have warned.

Farmers unable to access high-speed broadband will suffer following the introduction of a new digital system for delivering Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments, MPs have warned.

One of the biggest changes set to affect the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the next year is the implementation of the new CAP, which will result in payments to farmers switching to an only-online process from 2015.

Under the new unified system, farmers across England will be expected to make all funding applications via the web.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee warned that delivery of these payments is "at stake" as a result of the plans. 

Committee Chairman Anne McIntosh stressed: "Farmers who are unable to access online systems, particularly in areas not yet adequately covered by the government's own rural broadband programme, must be able to continue to access payments via paper-based systems."

MPs on the Public Accounts Committee have previously criticised the coalition's plans to improve rural connectivity, arguing that BT - which has won every contract awarded under the programme - has been "placed in a quasi-monopolistic position".

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