The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has paid out £1.725 billion to farmers in the first few days of the payment window opening this month.

These payments cover the Basic Payments Scheme (BPS), Countryside Stewardship (CS) revenue and Environmental Stewardship (ES) schemes.

The money has so far covered 97,500 claims, with more to be paid out in this first window, which runs until June.

RPA chief executive Paul Caldwell said:

“We know there is more to do and we understand the importance of these payments to the rural economy.

We understand that it has been a challenging year for rural communities, which is why we’re working hard to get payments made as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

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

Claimants are also urged to remain vigilant against fraud.

Changes to payments

Direct Payments will gradually be reduced over a seven year period, starting from this Basic Payment Scheme year. The biggest reductions will initially be made to the higher payment bands.

The money will be repurposed for schemes which incentivise sustainable farming alongside profitable food production - rewarding farmers for actions that improve air and water quality, and protect wildlife and soil health.

In order to ensure that farmers are adequately supported throughout this journey, the farming resilience programme will be available throughout the first three years of the agricultural transition period to help those most affected by the phasing out of Direct Payments. This will help farmers plan and manage their businesses through the transition to the new system.