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Farmers waiting for subsidy cash will get bridging payments

PUBLISHED: 09:52 29 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:52 29 January 2018

Farming minister George Eustice speaking at the 2016 Norfolk Farming Conference. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Farming minister George Eustice speaking at the 2016 Norfolk Farming Conference. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2016

Farmers still awaiting money from an EU-funded subsidy scheme have been told they will receive “bridging payments” to help their cash flow.

More than 93pc of farmers in England eligible for the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) have now received their grant, according to the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), which administers the scheme in the UK. Payments made so far are worth more than £1.5bn.

Farming minister George Eustice said those who haven’t received their money by the end of March will be offered a bridging payment of 75pc in April.

“We have made good progress towards getting payments to farmers this year with over 93pc now paid and we are working hard on the final 7pc,” he said.

“The burden of EU rules continues to be a barrier to some of the remaining processing so we will ensure that, as we did last year, any farmer not paid by the end of March will receive a bridging payment in April.”

Landowners’ leaders welcomed the move, but said timely payments to the remaining 7pc of farmers remained an important priority.

Shane Brennan, director of external affairs at the Country land and Business Association (CLA), said: “Bridging payments are not preferable to getting a full payment in a timely manner, but they are essential for farm businesses who are still waiting for 2017 BPS and make a major difference to cash flow.

“We are grateful that the minister has listened and particularly that this will be a feature of the system not just this year, but for the next two years.

“We will continue to keep a close eye on the situation to ensure the RPA is able to reach the target set out by the minister of 75pc by April.”

Environment secretary Michael Gove recently announced that the government will match the £3bn which farmers currently receive in support from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy until 2022, but that future support payments will be based on meeting environmental criteria.

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