Advance support payments unlikely – Lord Bach

FARMERS IN England should not expect to see interim support cheques to tide them over until the single farm payment comes through. 

Concerns have been rising over potential cash flow problems and associated higher borrowing costs next autumn and winter as SFP cheques are expected to be sent to farmers several months later than under the old support system.

DEFRA food and farming minister, Lord Bach, said that he was considering the options, but saw practical problems with the idea of an advance payment.

“I’m not sure whether it would be sensible to have an interim payment. One of the problems is it may well push back the date of the full payment.”

The task of processing tens of thousands of advance cheques would tie up the Rural Payments Agency and its computer system, delaying the full payment past February.

The minister conceded the need for a definitive response, however, and promised farmers he would pronounce on the matter soon.

It is crucial that producers work out their cash flows before negotiating extended borrowing facilities with banks and planning outlay on seeds, machinery and other inputs.

NFU president, Tim Bennett, lambasted the government and the RPA for its poor record on implementing technology.

He described their performance so far as inadequate, and predicted further delays on the roll out of the technology backing the Entry Level Scheme.

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