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Delay to Commons farmers' BPS claims will add further pressure

Delays to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) roll-out on common land will impact on cash-flow at a ‘critical’ time of year, the Foundation for Common Land (FCL) has warned.
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FCL said the delay would come as a huge blow to claimants at a time when most bills are incurred
FCL said the delay would come as a huge blow to claimants at a time when most bills are incurred

 

FCL said the Rural Payments Agency’s (RPA) announcement those with ‘complex cases’ – including those farming on common land – would find themselves at the back of the BPS payment queue, would add further pressure to those in some of the country’s most fragile areas.

 

RPA chief executive Mark Grimshaw told an earlier NFU council meeting 4,000 farmers were unlikely to be paid until February 2016 at the earliest.

 

FCL said the delay would come as a huge blow to claimants at a time when most bills are incurred and could result in extra overdraft and interest charges.

 

Many commoners run small marginal businesses where BPS represents more than 25 per cent of their gross farm income.

 

FCL executive director Julia Aglionby said: “The RPA was asked if it could make payments on the non-common land element of the claim and, while the RPA is exploring this, it is understood partial payments may not be authorised.

 

“The Foundation for Common Land is concerned for the welfare of hill farmers and their families on whom the future of common land is dependent.

 

“This delay could significantly affect commoners’ ability to farm in a manner which respects the multiple environmental services produced by common land as farmers seek to cut costs and find other income sources. Examples include winter feeding practice, management of landscape features and stocking levels.”

 

Further details are expected from the RPA next month.

 

A Defra spokesperson said: “We understand how hard-pressed farmers are and the importance of prompt payments.
"The RPA is working closely with commons farmers and their agents and confirmed that typically claims with a greater degree of processing complexity, such as those with commons, are likely to take longer to process and pay - as they did under the Single Payment Scheme.
"The agency will continue to keep farmers updated to enable them to manage their finances in these difficult times.”

 

UK common land

 

  • 58 per cent of common land is designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest
  • More than 80 per cent is in designated landscape
  • 38 per cent of moorland is registered common land

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