Record levels of English farm payments made by the end of December

Record levels of farm payments have been made in England across the Basic Payment, Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship schemes.

Almost 97% of eligible farmers received their 2019 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) money by January 20, significantly ahead of the June 2020 deadline.

The latest figures from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) show that payments worth £1.69 billion were made to farmers by January 20.

It builds on a record December for the RPA where 95.7% of BPS claims were paid, worth a total of £1.64 billion, improving on last year’s position.

Changes to CS and ES payments

Additionally, those who claimed in 2019 on their Countryside Stewardship (CS) and Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreements are receiving one full revenue payment this year, as part of a wider improvement plan to deliver a better service to farmers and land managers.

This means that ES and CS final payments have started to arrive with customers four months earlier than last year, with approximately £109 million paid out under both schemes so far. This is more than double the total amount paid out this time last year.

Eligible BPS, CS and ES customers should expect to receive their full payment by the end of the payment window in June 2020.

RPA chief executive Paul Caldwell said: “We fully appreciate how important prompt payments are to farmers and land managers and I’m pleased that we have continued to deliver ahead of the deadline thanks to the efforts of our staff.

“We remain focused on continuously improving the delivery and performance of our schemes and ensuring remaining payments are made as quickly as possible.”

Just under 90% of CS and ES customers who received a bridging payment on their outstanding stewardship claims in July last year have now had their full payment processed. Where an adjustment has been made, those customers have been notified.

2020 window

For 2020, the application window for BPS and the claim window for CS and ES will open in March.

The RPA encourages all farmers and land managers to submit their applications and claims as soon as they are able to. The level of funding available for Direct Payments for 2020 will be the same as for 2019, with the rates for BPS payments to be confirmed later this year.

Farmers and land managers with an ES or CS agreement expiring this year can sign up for a new CS agreement to start in 2021, when the application window opens in February.

Payments are made direct to bank accounts via BACS transfer so farmers should make sure the RPA has the most up-to-date account details on the Rural Payments service.