UK misses out on early single farm payments

The EU commission has given permission for the early delivery of single farm payments in 10 member states, to help alleviate income pressures.

The countries in volved are Belgium, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Spain, and farmers will be able to receive up to 50% of direct payments for 2010 from 16 October onwards, instead of from 1 December.

“The financial crisis and a subsequent decrease in income, stricter conditions to get credits in the agriculture sector, price fluctuations for certain agricultural products and adverse weather conditions – including droughts and floods – are the main elements that have severely affected farmers,” said a statement.

“In order to help alleviate the difficulties caused by these circumstances, it is appropriate to authorise these countries to pay advances to farmers earlier than normal.

“The necessary verification of eligibility conditions must nevertheless be carried out before payment.”

The UK is not on the list of beneficiaries, in part reflecting the better income conditions afforded by the relative weakness of sterling.

NFU head of economics Tom Hind said it was no surprise that some member states were benefiting in this way. “There has not been a year when the EU Commission has not authorised early payments for someone or other, due to adverse weather or some other natural disaster.

“While some sectors in the UK are in financial difficulty, the euro-zone has had a worse financial crisis. And, even if early payments were allowed in England, it is doubtful whether the RPA would be able to deliver them.”

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