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Rural Payments Agency

Volume 688: debated on Thursday 25 January 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many persons are currently employed in the Rural Payments Agency; of these, how many are employed in monitoring and checking the cross-compliance provisions of the good agricultural and environmental condition; and what minimum agricultural qualification is required by those who inspect farms for this purpose. [HL1518]

The total number of staff currently employed by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is 3,174.

More than 200 inspectors are trained in all aspects of cross-compliance inspections currently carried out by RPA*.

The majority of RPA inspectors have a formal agricultural or related qualification ranging from national certificate/NVQ 3 to postgraduate level and/or a strong farming background. Others have become inspectors after gaining relevant skills and experience elsewhere in Defra/RPA. All inspectors undertake a rigorous internal training programme including mapping and measuring, arable and livestock skills, the requirements of each statutory management requirement falling within RPA's remit and the full range of GAECs. Training is conducted both on and off farm, with input from Defra/external experts as appropriate.

The Environment Agency is responsible for carrying out inspections in relation to SMRs 2, 3 and 4 (groundwater, sewage sludge and nitrate vulnerable zones); and the State Veterinary Service for inspections conducted under SMR 10 (restrictions on the use of substances having hormonal or thyrostatic action and beta-agonists in farm animals); a13-15 (control of animal disease and 16-18 (animal welfare).

*RPA inspectors carry out inspections in relation to SMRs 1—wild birds; 5—habitats; 6, 7 8 and 8a—livestock identification; 9—restrictions on the use of plant protection products ; 11—food and feed law and 12—prevention and control of TSEs.