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More than £850m in farm subsidies paid on first day of payment window, says agency

PUBLISHED: 10:00 06 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:14 06 December 2018

65% of BPS farm subsidies were paid on the first day of the 2018 payment window, said the RPA. Picture: Julien Behal/PA Wire

65% of BPS farm subsidies were paid on the first day of the 2018 payment window, said the RPA. Picture: Julien Behal/PA Wire

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Almost two thirds of farm support payments were made on the first day of this year's payment window, said a government agency - but industry leaders said it was vital to maintain momentum to keep cashflow moving after a difficult farming year.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA), which distributes EU subsidy funds via the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), said 55,179 of eligible claimants were paid on December 3, with payments worth more than £853.6m in total.

The RPA said at least 90pc of payments are “on track” to be made by the end of December. Chief executive Paul Caldwell added: “We know how important payments are to farmers and their businesses. We’ve worked hard to make significant progress compared with last year’s performance and we remain focused on getting remaining payments into bank accounts as soon as possible.”

But National Farmers’ Union vice president Stuart Roberts said the NFU wants to keep up the pressure on the agency to ensure prompt delivery of all payments.

“The news from the RPA today is helpful in setting out the intentions of the agency to make prompt BPS payments to farmers,” he said. “This is however, early days, and our focus at the NFU has always been ensuring that all farmers are issued a prompt and accurate payment.

“I reiterate our call on RPA, Defra and the Treasury for greater certainty in terms of payment delivery for those not paid by the end of December.

“To me, that has to be by issuing earlier bridging payments for those not paid in December. We must remember the last year has been very hard on many farming businesses, especially those impacted by the drought which followed hard on the heels of a long hard winter and late spring.”

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