The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) paid out around 107,000 eligible claims in 2022 totalling £1 billion, on top of £679 million that was issued for Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) advances earlier in the summer of 2022.

This total represents 98.4% of eligible claims to the BPS, which is up slightly from 98.3% in 2021; 73.6% of claims to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CS) revenue (up from 61.9%); and 76.5% of claims to the Environmental Stewardship Scheme (ES) (up from 64.8%) in 2022.

The agency said that these payments help farmers “deliver food security through sustainable food production alongside environmental actions to enhance and support nature”.

RPA chief executive, Paul Caldwell, said: “2022 was a challenging year for farmers, and we have focused on processing applications, claims and getting payments into bank accounts which I hope has helped farmers deal with the issues they have faced.

“We want more farmers to come into environmental schemes and recognise the importance of being able to start on their agreements, so the improvements this year are important to be able to build on.  

“We know how important our work is to rural communities, so we’ll continue to work hard to help where we can over the next 12 months.”

2022 improvements

The RPA also highlighted the new schemes, services and improvements that were introduced to help the agricultural sector in 2022 and the knock-on effects they would have for 2023:

  • Under the Farming Investment Fund, the RPA invited applications for three Farming Transformation Fund themes; Water Management, Improving Farm Productivity and Adding Value. A fourth theme, the Slurry Infrastructure Grant, opened in December and will run across 2023.
  • The RPA made £25.7 million in payments in 2022 under the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund. The original £21 million budget for this fund was increased to £48.5 million following high demand for the scheme.
  • The agency delivered a Lump Sum Exit Scheme for farmers who wished to leave or retire from farming. Over 2,100 farmers submitted eligible applications and to date payments totalling £5.8 million have been made to those who have evidenced leaving the sector.

From January 1, 2023, the RPA said all stewardship agreements have been moved to domestic terms and conditions and farmers with these agreements will “benefit from the new approach”.