Farmers put bureaucracy on the map: European Community paperwork has created queues and irritation. Will Bennett reports

IT TOOK Reg Loveys, a farmer, five hours to get to the front of the queue at the map shop in Exeter yesterday. He would have been happier at home looking after cows about to calve.

But like all the other farmers waiting their turn, Mr Loveys had to take the day off work to buy copies of two Ordnance Survey maps showing his 115-acre farm at Whitestone, near Exeter, Devon.

The price of the maps was pounds 37 but the day lost buying them and the hours it will take to complete the bureaucratic obstacle course of which they are part will cost him much more than that.

Farmers are traditionally not averse to a good moan but the European Community's Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS), the cause of the queue in Exeter, has made them unhappier than ever. The IACS is the result of last year's reform of the EC's Common Agricultural Policy which introduced direct subsidies for farmers. Officials in Brussels decided that they needed more detail to avoid fraudulent claims.

At the beginning of this month a large package of forms was delivered to 240,000 farmers in England and Wales accompanied by a 79- page explanation booklet from the British government. The whole exercise will cost pounds 25m.

Having read the booklet, the farmers have to fill in an eight-page form stating exactly where their land is and what it is used for. Areas occupied by ponds, dry-stone walls and hedges have to be deducted as these are not eligible for subsidies.

Next, they have to complete a field data sheet giving precise measurements of all relevant fields, and finally they must enclose copies of Ordnance Survey maps of their land. Buildings, ditches and even rows of trees must be marked on these if not already included.

It is the last requirement which has led to the busiest period ever for 39 Ordnance Survey agents in Britain, including Eland's in Exeter. The deadline for completing the forms is 15 May.

Mary Seward, who farms 33 acres on three parcels of land at Trusham, near Exeter, had discovered that she would have to buy 10 maps costing pounds 185, most of them showing tiny areas of her farm. 'It'll cost me another pounds 200 if a calf dies while I am away and there is no way of knowing how much money I'm going to get in subsidies.'

However, each farmer in the EC will have to fill in the forms and 1 per cent of the subsidy will be forfeited for every day they are late. Penalties for inaccurate information can further reduce the amount.

It has been described as the biggest survey since the Domesday Book. Ironically, a few hundred yards away from yesterday's queue a copy of the Exon Domesday lies in Exeter Cathedral. Saxon farmers would have sympathised.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower