Farmers ‘need certainty’ over subsidy payments, says NFU
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) confirmed it has paid out Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) farm subsidies to almost 51% of farmers as it came under fire for not doing more.
National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president Meurig Raymond said farmers needed “certainty and confidence” over when they were going to be paid.
“The RPA has kept its promise by less than 1% - this ‘bare minimum’ approach does not bode well for its ‘vast majority’ promise by the end of January,” he said.
“The NFU will keep up the pressure on the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the RPA to be transparent in its progress announcements and is stressing the importance of having sufficient resource to get the payments out to farmers in the coming weeks.
“Farmers must have certainty of when they are going to be paid and this will give them the confidence they need to be able to run their businesses as normally as possible until they receive that crucial payment.”
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NFU vice president Guy Smith, who farms at Clacton, said: “In this announcement the RPA has confirmed there is almost exactly £1billion – 70% of the fund - left to go out to 44,000 BPS claimants.
“Once received, this £1bn won’t be hanging around in farm bank accounts - it will pay bills benefiting the wider rural economy. Many rural businesses, not just farmers, are desperately waiting for this money.
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“Additionally there is the impact this will be having on overdrafts. £1bn at an average borrowing rate of 3.3% equates to over £90,000 in interest every day being sucked out of the rural economy.
“More than 15,000 people have been told by the RPA they will not be paid until after the end of January. This continues to be a major concern. We are calling on the RPA to consider partial payments to these people and for DEFRA to give the resources needed to do it.
“The RPA must ensure farmers are aware of when they are going to be paid. No one can sensibly run a business on the basis they might be paid ‘sometime after January’.”
An RPA spokesperson said: “The RPA has paid 44,400 farmers their full BPS claims. This represents almost 51% of all eligible claimants meaning we have met our commitment to pay the majority of claims in December. We remain on track to pay the vast majority of claims by the end of January.
“We understand the importance of these payments and will continue to work hard to pay the remaining claims as quickly as possible.”