Cows grazing on rough pasture land© FLPA/Rex Shutterstock

Farmers with common land included on their Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) claim are unlikely to receive their support payments until February, according to farm minister George Eustice.

Addressing the Northern Farming Conference in Hexham on Wednesday (11 November), Mr Eustice said that the overall position was that BPS payments would start next month and the vast majority of payments would be made by the end of January.

“Our position is that we will make the majority of payments in December and the vast majority by the end of January. The payment window opens on 1 December and obviously we will be planning to start making payments at the beginning of the payment window.”

See also: Direct payments to fall 7.3% in lowland England farms for 2015

However, the minister went on to explain that because of a change to the way payments are allocated for commons, they had become more complex claims to process.

“We believe we will be able to pay them in February, but it is unlikely we’ll be able to pay them before that. If we can pay them earlier then we will.”

NFU vice-president Guy Smith said while he believed that the vast majority of farmers would see their payments in December or January, “there is time for the wheels to come off the train yet.”

Robert Sullivan, a partner at Strutt & Parker’s Morpeth office, said if farmers had to wait until February for payments it could leave them with huge cashflow problems as it was their main source of income.

“It is crucial to get payments out on farm as quickly as possible. This money does not stop in the farmer’s account. They are almost all totally allocated to paying input suppliers or bank loans.

“The BPS money ensures the farmer’s ability to trade going forward and any delays have a big impact on the wider economy as well as farmers themselves.”