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RPA releases details of help for farms affected by floods

The Rural Payments Agency has announced more details of the support farmers hit by floods will receive around BPS and animal movements. It has also issued a BPS update.
Farmers hit by floods have been granted relief on key policy areas
Farmers hit by floods have been granted relief on key policy areas

The Rural Payments Agency has outlined the support and guidance it is offering for farmers affected by the floods in the North of England.

 

Farming Minister George Eustice recently announced the agency would not carry out inspections in the flooded areas and would make use of any flexibility in cross compliance and animal movement rules for affected farmers.

 

The following support and guidance is now available:

 

  • Farmers whose land has been flooded and are experiencing extreme hardship are advised to contact the agency on 03000 200 301 as soon as possible and report their circumstances, so that they can access targeted support.
  • Farmers concerned about their eligibility for BPS payments and meeting cross compliance requirements are advised to check the BPS handbook, as flooded land should still be eligible if the flooding is temporary.
  • If the impact of flooding could be regarded as permanent, farmers should apply for ‘force majeure’ within 15 working days of being in a position to do so.
  • Farmers concerned about a breach of the cross compliance rules that is out of their control are advised to try and keep records that can then be produced if inspections take place at a later date.
  • RPA will not carry out any inspections on farms directly affected by flooding until the situation eases.
  • Flood affected livestock farmers who have been forced to move animals for welfare reasons are advised to update their farm records and report movements as soon as they are able. In circumstances like this they should inform RPA of any concerns, as soon as possible.
  • Where these movements would breach the 6 day standstill period, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will licence these moves. Keepers should contact APHA on 03000 200 301
  • Providing cattle keepers tell APHA they cannot complete their TB test due to flooding, no cross compliance action will be triggered.

 

Further guidance for flood affected farmers in the North of England can be viewed here

FARMING RECOVERY FUND

Details on how to apply for the Farming Recovery Fund, announced by Mr Eustice last week, are expected to be announced on December 18.

Applicants are likely to have two months to apply. To help those affected who may want to apply, RPA has issued advice on steps they can take now to prepare:

 

  • It is really important for farmers to document the extent of any damage with photographs.
  • Essential work, such as securing the area for stock, can start but it’s important farmers take photos to show the damage they experienced. Any assessment of applications will need to ensure claims are eligible and provide good value for money.
  • Once the scheme has opened the RPA dedicated team will be able to take enquiries and advise farmers about requirements.

 

 


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RPA delivers another 3,000 BPS payments in England

The RPA delivered 3,000 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments during the second week of the EU payment window and said it remained on course to meet its targets.

 

The agency paid 33,000 claims on December 1, the first day of the payment window, 38 per cent of the 88,000 claimants.

 

By December 8 it had delivered 36,083 payments to 41.4 per cent of eligible farmers.

 

The RPA said it remained on track to meet its commitment to pay more than half of eligible claimants in England by the end of December and vast majority by end of January.

 

But the agency is coming under increasing scrutiny over its targets after indications the value of the payments delivered so far.

 

The payments made on December 1 totalled just £261 million, an estimated 17 per cent of the total fund and worth about £8,000 per farmer. The agency has not released a value of the payments delivered by December 8.

Cry foul

NFU president Guy Smith said: “We have always said the RPA’s targets [for December and January] must apply to value and volume. If they make it by volume but not value, we will cry foul.”

 

There is also concern over the number of claimants likely to be still waiting for their money in February and beyond. The RPA has sent letters to 15,000 farmers warning them they might not be paid by the end of January.

 

These are thought to include about 5,000 commons farmers, 1,000 cross-border claims and, possibly 9,000 farmers who will be subject to inspections, although the RPA has not confirmed whether these farmers are in the late category.

 

The RPA said payments made so far have ranged from under £500 to £150,000 have been made to small, medium and large sized enterprises in all geographic areas of England and to all sectors of the industry.

 

Payments include new elements introduced under the BPS 2015 scheme, including young farmer and greening.

 

It also reiterated that it has to carry out checks before paying. There are a number of checks RPA might need to make, but not all of them may apply to each farmer’s claim.

 

These include:

 

  • Cross-checking BPS applications against claims for other rural payment schemes
  • Validating that greening rules have been met on a case by case basis
  • Processing the results of an inspection both physical and remote
  • Checking claims against the land data RPA holdS.
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