The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) is calling for urgent clarity from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) about when it will make final payments to farmers awaiting outstanding balances under the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme. This call comes as the TFA is told that many farmers will not receive these payments by the 30 June 2018 deadline set out by the EU Commission.
TFA farm policy adviser, Lynette Steel said “The TFA is concerned to hear that the RPA expect to miss this month’s payment deadline. A number of our members are still expecting final payments of as much as £30,000. However with less than 15 days to go before the payment deadline passes, they are being left in the dark as to whether their payments will be made on time”.
“While most claimants have received a bridging payment, this has not gone far enough to ease the financial pressures on their businesses and personal wellbeing,” said Mrs Steel.
The lack of communication from the RPA to claimants, their agents and to the TFA alike has also become a source of growing frustration. This is especially in cases where historic discrepancies have not been dealt with and have simply been rolled over into the following years claim, resulting in the farmer being owed tens of thousands of pounds by the RPA.
“The payment deadline of 30th June cannot come quick enough for many of our members. As we expect not all will receive their promised payments by this date, we urge the RPA to communicate clearly and quickly to provide realistic payment deadlines to ensure further financial plans can be put in place to safeguard individual businesses,” said Mrs Steel.
The TFA remains in daily contact with the RPA to resolve these matters.
“This poor performance, coupled with the shambolic delivery of Countryside Stewardship, does not give us the confidence that we need that DEFRA is well placed to deliver the sorts of schemes envisaged by Michael Gove’s Health and Harmony document. DEFRA has a long way to go to ensure improvements in the performance of the Agencies for which it is responsible,” said Mrs Steel.