The NFU has welcomed news from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) that it is making good progress issuing payments in this year’s window, with more than 97,000 claims already paid out.
So far, the agency has made payments to farmers totalling £1.725bn in the first few days of the window, which runs between December and June.
A good start
In response to the publication of the figures, NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw said: “We welcome the good start to the payment window reported by the RPA, where over 97,500 farmers have received payments since 1 December under BPS, Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship.
"As always, these payments are very welcome and are a critical part of business cashflow, especially at a time of huge cost inflation."
Commitment and clear communications
Mr Bradshaw continued: “It is crucial we receive a commitment from the RPA that the remainder are paid as soon as possible and there are clear communications with anyone not expected to receive payments by the end of December. We will continue to monitor the progress of the situation and support those farmers who have not yet been paid.”
However, the NFU has raised concerns about the RPA's resource and capability to deliver as new ELM schemes become live and add to its workload.
“We believe the current figures raise questions around resource and delivery capability," Mr Bradshaw said, "particularly around agri-environment schemes, where no individual scheme figures have been released in the RPA's statement.
"The new schemes to be released over the next two years will only add to the already high workload of the RPA.
“While the proposal to increase the payment frequency under the SFI scheme to quarterly is positive and takes away the annual focus of payments, it does require more resource from the RPA so it is crucial this is prepared for adequately.”