Farmers have until the end of today (15 May) to return their Single Payment Scheme applications to the Rural Payments Agency before they face a penalty.

The completed, signed forms must have arrived at the relevant office by the time it closes this evening.

Those who miss the deadline face a 1% penalty for each day late, up to 9 June, after which applications will not be accepted.

Many farmers appeared to have left it to the last minute to get their SPS forms back to the RPA.

On Tuesday (13 May), only 73,000 forms had been submitted, out of an expected 106,662.

NFU SPS adviser Richard Wordsworth said the very early Easter, when many farmers traditionally complete their forms, and the recent spell of good weather may have contributed to the late rush.