THE boss of the Government agency responsible for processing millions of pounds of support payments to farmers has pledged to pay promptly.
Mark Grimshaw, chief executive of the Rural Payments Agency, was asked to speed up the payments to farmers facing low prices for their livestock and milk.
Prompt payment could be the difference between farm businesses surviving or collapsing, particularly in the dairy sector.
Following a plea from Richmond MP Rishi Sunak the payments are due to be made in December and January 2016.
Mr Sunak urged Mr Grimshaw to do all he could to make sure farmers facing cash flow problems received the money they were entitled to as quickly as possible.
Mr Grimshaw was giving evidence to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee, of which Mr Sunak is a member.
The Rural Payments Agency has had problems in the past making payments on time, partly because of computer software problems.
Referring to the current problems faced by dairy farmers, many of whom are receiving less for their milk than it costs to produce, Mr Sunak said: “Your payments will be the difference between people being in business and sustaining their livelihood or deciding to pack it in. I urge you and you team to doing everything you can to ensure the greatest number of farmers get their payments as soon as possible.”
Mr Grimshaw responded by saying the RPA recognised the situation farmers faced and the importance of the payments to the rural economy as a whole. His staff were working seven days a week and volunteering to work extra hours.