Farm groups have joined forces to help farmers navigate the cashflow crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with banks being urged to be ’flexible’.
With the chaos affecting every economic activity within the food supply chain, highlighting volatility around input supplies and market outlets, the NFU has been in frequent contact with the Treasury, Bank of England and the banks to discuss their support for farm businesses which may need financial assistance.
An NFU spokesperson, said: “It is clear from our discussions the banks have a strong appetite to support British farmers and growers, who are doing such critical work to feed the nation, through offering flexibility on existing finance, new commercial loans and overdrafts as well as delivering the Government’s financial support packages for those who need it.
“We are pleased that the banks have taken on board our view of the importance of being both flexible and supportive to their farm business customers during this time.”
CLA president, Mr Bridgeman, said businesses must adapt to the new regime, meaning ‘changes for most’ and has called on the UK Government to support the transition through a ’Business Adaptation Programme’ to provide funding for advice, training and grants for buildings, equipment and infrastructure to bolster sustainable and profitable farming objectives.
He also raised his concerns about Government’s plans to continue the phase out of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) by 2021.
Mr Bridgeman added: “The end of direct payments will require many rural businesses to fundamentally rethink how they operate.
“It is important, more than ever during this global pandemic, the UK Government implements a fair transition with policies that provide enough time and information to allow individual businesses to make the right choices.
“The reduction in BPS should be delayed by a year, until there is greater clarity on what farmers will be transitioning too.
“Also, no business should have more than 25 per cent cut in direct payments before the new Environmental Land Management scheme is available to everyone.”
Julia Aglionby, executive director (England) for the Foundation of Common Land, said: "With many of Defra’s staff working on the Future Farming and ELMs programme understandably diverted into Covid-19 work, Government must be honest about achievable timescales and take responsible steps to protect business cash flow, avoid gaps in payments and secure our EU markets by delaying BPS phase out."