farm gate with view of farmland©INGiamges

An initial survey carried out by the NFU suggests only 25% of its members in England have received their single farm payment.

Guy Smith, vice-president of the NFU, said the union had been actively contacting its members to gauge how many had received their Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payment.

A spokesman for the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) said the agency would not be giving a “rolling commentary” on farm payments.

See also: Farmers fear rural divide of haves and have-nots

In its latest press release, the RPA said as of 8 December it had issued 36,083 payments – that’s 41.4% of the 88,000 or so eligible farmers in England.

“Payments ranging from less than £500 to £150,000 have been made to small, medium and large enterprises in all geographic areas of England and to all sectors of the industry,” the RPA added.

The agency said it also remained on track to meet its commitment to pay more than half of eligible claimants in England by the end of December and the “vast majority” by the end of January.

In response, Mr Smith said: “While we accept that the RPA has gotten more than 40% of payments out, we are conscious that our initial survey work suggests only 25% of NFU members are saying they have seen any money.

“We think this is partly related to the fact there is a huge discrepancy between the volume percentage of claims being paid and the total percentage of value.”

The NFU was also hearing from members who have been paid and yet have also had letters from the RPA telling them they were unlikely to receive anything until February.

“It’s all very confusing and causing anxiety,” said Mr Smith. “We call upon the RPA to be more detailed in their communication so claimants can better understand what is going on.”

Meanwhile, farm minister George Eustice confirmed on Thursday (17 December) that 600 flood-hit farmers in Cumbria will see their BPS payments prioritised if they have not already been paid.

NFU president Meurig Raymond: “While this is a positive step, we continue to call upon the government to make payments to our members in other parts of the country who are waiting for their payments and will face a very difficult few months ahead until the delayed payment situation is resolved.”