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    University staff and alumni appointed to appeals panel

    Posted 10 December 2014

    Alastair Johnston

    Harper Adams University staff and alumni are among the 36 new appointments to the Rural Payments Agency’s Independent Agricultural Appeals Panel. 

    The new appointments are for a period of three years and supplement the existing 14 panel members, whose terms have been extended for a further year. 

    Appeals panels meet to consider appeals from farmers and traders against decisions made by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) in administering the schemes that it operates. Farming Minister George Eustice then makes a final decision on each appeal taking account of the panel’s recommendations.

    Harper Adams alumnus Alastair Johnston said of his appointment: “I am very pleased to have been selected for this important role.  It’s a real honour to have been appointed. I look forward to having the opportunity to assess the cases which are brought before the panel members. 

    “I have spent many years advising farmers on the various schemes and I in the past I have sat on regulatory industry and Government working and implementation groups, therefore I have experience of both sides of the table, so it will be interesting to be able to help adjudicate on cases where the payment agencies and applicants can’t agree.”

    Mr Johnston graduated from Harper Adams in 1998 with an honours degree in agriculture with land and farm management. He is currently the head of Farm Management at the Smiths Gore Lichfield office and was selected for the panel for his broad agricultural knowledge, and regulatory expertise particularly in the areas of the Common Agricultural Policy, and Cross Compliance. 

    RPA Customer Director Justin Chamberlain said:  “These appointments strengthen our pool of panel members with a broad range of skills and backgrounds, so we are in the best place possible to consider appeals with due impartiality.

    The Rural Payments Agency does its best to resolve complaints and appeals at an early stage, but inevitably there are some cases where we cannot agree with the complainant, who may well not accept our decision.

    The Independent Agricultural Appeals Panel provides an important avenue for these cases, bringing external independent expert consideration to cases.

    For the full list of appointments, which includes Harper Adams University farm manager Scott Kirby, see here.


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