Delay to agri-environment scheme payments “unacceptable”, says NFU

A delay of up to four months for agri-environment scheme payments to farmers in England will put added pressure on farm businesses at a time when thousands are facing low farmgate prices.

Natural England has told the NFU that payments will start being made to farmers in October but the majority of transactions will take place in November and December. This autumn farmers in England are owed £200 million for environmental measures they have carried out.

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “I am extremely frustrated to learn that the first payments under the agri-environment scheme this year will not be made until October, at the earliest. This is partly due to IT failures in the spring and the extension of claim deadlines for the BPS and agri-environment scheme.

“The NFU understands that the delay is due to the need to cross-check BPS and agri-environment data as part of a requirement under EU regulations.

“The delay is completely unacceptable.

“At a time when markets are at their most volatile, farmgate prices are low and farm bank accounts are stretched it is vital that farmers get the money they are owed as soon as possible. Our members will need to adjust their cash flow arrangements accordingly when this does not happen.

“Last year the vast majority of payments were made in August and this should be the case again this year. Our members expect to be treated in a consistent manner and to be paid promptly for work they have already carried out.

“It is important that the Government does all it can to get payments to farmers as soon as possible and the NFU will continue to lobby for this to be a priority in the coming months.”

Get Our E-Newsletter - breaking news to your in-box twice a week
Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy
Share.

About The Author