The Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA) has called on Government to ensure farm payments are made on time as the deadline to claim was extended due to disruption caused by the coronavirus.
The Government has confirmed the window to submit applications for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), or make claims for Countryside Stewardship (CS), Environmental Stewardship (ES) and woodland legacy revenue payments has been extended by a month to June 15.
The period for amending claims without penalty has also been extended to June 30 2020, with final submission of applications and claims now to be with the RPA by July 10 2020.
Applications for new CS Higher Tier and Mid Tier agreements are still being accepted ahead of their respective deadlines of May 1 and July 31 2020.
TFA chief executive George Dunn said: “While there are some who would not have been able to make the May 15 deadline for BPS and stewardship claims give the current Covid-19 restrictions, it is disappointing that a more innovative solution was not forthcoming to keep the May 15 deadline for the vast majority, while providing specific measures for those with difficulties.
“However, now the decision has been made to move the deadlines to June, we must not see this being used as an excuse for making late payments under these schemes.
“It is essential for the cash flow of farming businesses that there is no delay to making payments.
“Many farmers are still awaiting payment of 2019 stewardship claims which must also be resolved without further delay.”
Rural Payments Agency (RPA) chief executive Paul Caldwell said he was ‘fully focused’ on making vital payments to the rural community during this difficult time.
He urged farmers and their agents to complete their applications and claims as soon as they are able to, using the Rural Payments Service in the first instance.
Last week, the NFU called on the Government to establish a BPS 2020 ‘guarantee’, which would ensure all claimants receive either their full payment or a bridging loan worth 90 per cent of the claim value by early December 2020.
The union also demanded all outstanding 2019 Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship payments be released by the end of April, with Treasury funding if ordinary processing will not allow payments to be issued.