Defra offers bridging payments for BPS delays

Bridging payments will be offered to farmers in England still waiting for their annual support cheque after the end of March, the government has announced.

Some 95% of farmers have received their basic payment scheme money for 2016 – but some 3,000 farmers are still waiting for their money.

Defra secretary Andrea Leadsom said the Treasury had agreed to offer a 75% bridging payment to those still affected by the BPS delay at the end of March.

See also: RPA issues new query form for BPS underpayments

But the situation was still much better than it was a year ago, she told delegates at the NFU annual conference in Birmingham on Tuesday (21 February).

“In 2015, too many farmers experienced delays and problems with their BPS payments.

“Lessons have been learned, and I am pleased the Rural Payments Agency has made good progress with this year’s claims.

Nearly 86,000 farmers receive BPS payments which make up as much as 70% of the profit on some farms, Mrs Leadsom told the conference.

Unpredictable world

Payments from the CAP had provided farmers with a guaranteed income – and an element of uncertainty in an otherwise unpredictable world, she added.

But farm support would change after the UK left the EU.

Mrs Leadsom said: “I understand how important these payments are to you – but we also know how flawed the CAP is.”

Blunt tool

Describing the CAP as a blunt tool, Mrs Leadsom said it offered little reward or recognition for the services provided by growers and livestock producers.

It was desperately complicated, tying up farmers in red tape.

A post-Brexit support system would be based on simpler, more effective rules, enabling farmers to grow more, sell more and export more British food.