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