Initial reports from the UK’s farming community have indicated a significant split between farmers who have applied for the basic payment scheme (BPS); with some facing a long wait, while their neighbours have already received their payment.
The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) promised farmers that they would receive their funding from the BPS by January, with the majority receiving it at the start of December.
However, new figures show that some 33,000 claimants were paid a total of £261 million in England alone on 1 December – the first day of the payment window.
But many farmers face an uncertain wait especially in Scotland, where just one in four claimants is expected to receive 70 per cent of their money by the end of the month.
Banks and other lenders have been asked to remain patient with their farming customers while they wait for them to receive their funding.
In response to the lack of payments in some areas, the RPA said its focus had always been on releasing the money to farmers in what had been a challenging year for the new basic payments scheme in England. Payments made so far to farmers represented at least 38 per cent of those who claimed, it added.
According to many farmers, the agency appears to be initially focusing on smaller and easier-to-settle claims. The debate has been fuelled even further by an average pay-out of less than £8,000 per recipient and the fact that there are still more than 50,000 farmers in England left to receive their payment.
Guy Smith, NFU vice-president, said: “When the RPA starts talking about a percentage, we want to see value as well as volume going out. We do not want to see one million £10 cheques. We want to see a good cross-section of payment claims going out.”
“A significant amount of money has gone out – and we have to congratulate the RPA for that. But the fact they have only paid just over one-third of applicants increases the anxiety among the have-nots.”