RPA pays out £1.2bn in farm payments

More than £1.2bn was paid to English farmers on 1 December, the first day of the Single Payment Scheme payment window.

The Rural Payments Agency said that the money, which represents 71.6% of the estimated total fund, had been sent to 84,600 farmers.

In a written statement DEFRA farm minister Jim Paice said: “There remains much to do but this promising beginning places the RPA in a good position to meet its first SPS 2011 performance indicator.”

That first target is to pay 78% of the total estimated fund value to a minimum of 86% of eligible claimants by the end of December 2011.

“Payments to farmers will continue to be made as soon as validation of their claims is complete,” Mr Paice said.

He also pledged to ensure any farmers, who would not receive their payments before the New Year, would be contacted.

“The RPA will write in early December to those farmers who are unlikely to be paid during the month in order to both explain the additional work that is required to validate their claim and provide an indicative timescale for how long that type of work can take,” Mr Paice said.

“While it will not be possible to provide specific dates when payments will be made, I hope the additional information being supplied this year will help farmers with business planning,” he said.

In Wales the Assembly Government expected to pay a total of £214m to 14,596 applications (88% of farmers) on the first day of the payment window. The target by the end of December is to have 90% of payments completed.

In Scotland, rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said 70% of Scottish farmers would receive payments within 15 days of the payment window opening.

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