Farm leaders call for BPS early payment commitment

Farm leader from across the UK have called on the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to provide assurance that they are focused on making Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments in December.

On 1 December the next BPS window will open and farmers will be able to apply for the 2016 funding year. However, the NFU has said there are still “far too many unknowns” around the progress of claims for the 2015 period.

At the NFU Council meeting in October, the head of the RPA Mark Grimshaw stated that the majority of the 88,000 farmers and agents in England who submitted claims this year could expect to be paid in December, while the “vast majority” would be paid by January.

But NFU vice-president Guy Smith said he would be seeking assurances from Mark Grimshaw that the RPA’s payments timetable was still on course, in a meeting due to be held this month.

“While we appreciate the RPA is working seven days a week to process claims, we have concerns around the next phases of work on claims,” Guy Smith said.

He urged the RPA to continue to be transparent on progress and notify farmers if the payments were going to be delayed to allow farm businesses to make allowances.

In response Justin Chamberlain, RPA Customer Director, said: “We are on track to start making payments from December with the majority before the end of December and the vast majority by the end of January 2016.”

“Of particular concern to the NFU is the ability of the RPA to deliver payments to those farmers who are also commoners, many of which are situated in upland areas, given the different approach to the allocation of common land this year,” he added.

“We understand how hard-pressed farmers are and how important prompt payments are to them.

“We’ve input the vast majority of all claim data into the Rural Payments system and we’re now working on land and entitlement transfers.”