Seasonal commitments could be hit by any more farm payment delays

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Upland farmers could be forced to drop annual or seasonal commitments, such as paying for feed and fertilisers or re-investing in their businesses, because of the Rural Payments Agency’s failure to meet deadlines.

Speaking after a meeting with the NFU Uplands Forum, chairman Robin Milton said he was pleased that RPA staff had met with them to listen to their concerns about delays to subsidy payments but that farmers were still concerned ahead of the 2016 payment window opening in December.

There have been months of delays in making full 2015 payments to upland farmers, whose applications have proven to be more complicated to process at the RPA. Due to problems with the agency’s IT system, it paid just 51 per cent of farmers their Basic Payment Scheme monies last December and by May, ten per cent of eligible farmers had still not received full payments.

Outlining his concerns over environmental stewardship and BPS payments, Mr Milton said: “The RPA continues to tell us that it is still adamant that payments will be delivered promptly in the coming weeks and months.

“We have been assured that cross checks have now taken place with Natural England for forthcoming stewardship funding.

“However, we also need a firm commitment from the RPA to improve its customer service and communications.

“Many farmers have annual and seasonal commitments that they will not be able to meet without these payments coming in December. With the previous year having ongoing consequences in the short term, farmers cannot continue to run with these issues affecting their business.”