Loans lined up as farmers prepare for the worst

Bridging loans will be offered to help bank customers cope with any delays in EU payments.

Bridging loans will be offered to help bank customers cope with any delays in EU payments.

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FARM BUSINESSES are being advised to plan for the possibility of a two or three month delay in receiving their Basic Payment Scheme pay outs after the online difficulties that resulted in a return to paper-based applications.

The warning from Ian Burrow, head of agriculture and renewable energy at NatWest and RBS, was part of an announcement this week that the banks would be offering their customers fee-free loans to tide farmers over if they are indeed hit by delays as many fear.

Mr Burrow said: “We’ve been working closely with industry bodies who have warned that farmers could face a delay in receiving their BPS payment compared to when they have historically received their Single Farm Payment.

“Our current expectation is that the delay will not be this long but it is prudent for businesses to plan for possibly a two to three month delay.”

The bridging loan, available to existing customers, will allow farming businesses to borrow a significant proportion of the amount they expect to receive from the BPS until the official payment comes through, Mr Burrow said.

NFU president Meurig Raymond said he was pleased the banks had listened to its members’ concenrs.

“We have been working closely with the financial industry to ensure they remain aware of the financial issues farmers are facing. RBS and NatWest have acted quickly to offer these fee-free bridging loans and we welcome their efforts.”

The Rural Payments Agency, which administers the payments, said that it had now received more than 50 per cent - some 44,800 - of completed BPS applications. The application deadline has been extended to June 15.

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