The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) is pleased to hear that the RPA has completed over 98% of 2018 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments in advance of the June deadline, this shows significant improvement in the Agency’s processing ability.
However, the continuing need to rely on bridging payments particularly for agri-environment schemes, raises questions as to the underlying performance of the Agency. The TFA understands those farmers still to receive their 2018 BPS payment and advanced payments for 2018 Countryside Stewardship (CS), will receive a bridging payment from the 12 April 2019.
TFA Policy Adviser, Lynette Steel, said “While we welcome these bridging payments, the TFA is concerned that the RPA is becoming more dependent on using the bridging payment mechanism as a regular method to enable payments rather than getting to the root cause of the issues that are delaying them.”
“The use of bridging payments gives the RPA a ‘get out of jail free card’ in the short term. Greater questions need to be addressed by the Agency as to the cause of the delayed payments in the first instance,” said Lynette.
While bridging payments will be welcomed by BPS and CS agreement holders, those with land in Environmental Stewardship (ES) schemes are still facing lengthy delays in receiving payments.
“There are fundamental issues with the ES scheme, which has resulted in payment delays. Despite regular meetings with stakeholders, the Agency’s refusal to communicate the root cause of these problems continues to be a point of frustration. Ministers are simply taking too long to action the required improvement plan needed to rectify the delayed payments,” said Lynette.
“The TFA is calling for DEFRA to take immediate action to restore farmer’s confidence in these schemes, leaving it until the launch of the new Environmental Land Management schemes will be too late,” says Lynette.