Single farm payments slow to a trickle

The rate at which single farm payments are going out from the Rural Payments Agency has slowed considerably, with latest figures revealing that just another 1160 payments have been made in the past week.

The flow of funds got off to a flying start when the payment window opened on 1 December, with 86,500 English farmers getting £1.31bn in the first two days.

But figures released on Tuesday (8 December) show that the total now stands at 87,664 payments worth £1.33bn. That equates to 72% of the total fund available by value, and 81% by number of claimants.

It leaves just short of 20,000 farmers still waiting for their 2009 SFP money, including farmers who have transferred entitlements this year, those claiming energy crop payments and those who have had an on-farm cross compliance check and are still awaiting the “all clear”.

Another group of farmers still waiting is those who hold “special entitlements”. There are about 250 such claimants, who only qualify for SFP if they keep enough livestock each year. This involves additional checks.

NFU adviser Richard Wordsworth said it was encouraging that the RPA had already “hit the tail” of claimants. But it was important that it kept on track towards meeting its payment targets of 75% of all payments by value by the end of January, and 90% by the end of March.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat shadow DEFRA secretary Tim Farron has hit out at the fact that the biggest CAP payments go to the country’s largest farmers and called for a more equitable system.

His research has revealed that £120m in SFPs was awarded last year to just 387 recipients – equivalent to an average £310,000 each.

“At a time when hill farmers across the country are struggling to get by on an average income of less than £10,000, how can anyone justify a system which pays big landowners millions of pounds in taxpayers’ money?” he said.

* For a comment on this story, see Phil Clarke’s Business Blog


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