NFU says many Norfolk farm businesses are still struggling with Basic Payment Scheme delays

National Farmers' Union BPS meeting at Barnham Broom. Pictured from left: Keith Wellings (RPA), NFU

National Farmers' Union BPS meeting at Barnham Broom. Pictured from left: Keith Wellings (RPA), NFU adviser Anna Logan, NFU County Chairman Tony Bambridge, Matthew Martin (RPA). - Credit: Brian Finnerty

Concerns have been raised about the number of Norfolk farm businesses still waiting for support payments under the 2016 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) held a briefing at Barnham Broom hotel, outside Norwich, where farmers heard that although the government's Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has paid more than 95pc of subsidy claimants nationally, the figure is thought to be much lower in parts of Norfolk.

NFU BPS adviser Anna Logan said some of the delays were due to mapping problems which occurred after remote sensing inspections by satellite of Norfolk farmland last summer. Farmers have since discovered missing fields or incorrect field boundaries in the maps held by the RPA.

She said farm businesses that have still not been paid by the end of March will receive a 75pc bridging payment, which was announced by environment secretary Andrea Leadsom last month.

NFU Norfolk county chairman Tony Bambridge said: 'Changes have been made to maps and we've known nothing about it, which is very frustrating and very unfortunate.'

About 70 farmers attended the briefing, which was the first in a series across the region organised by the NFU with the RPA.

Keith Wellings from the RPA said farmers who applied online in 2016 will receive an email notification of how to apply for the 2017 scheme. Those who filled in a paper form without agent support will receive another form. Paper guidance will also be sent to these applicants.

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The deadline for applications is May 15 and Anna Logan stressed the importance of keeping a hard copy, showing the date when an application was submitted, especially the online version. 'We are helping one member with issues over his 2016 claim but he has not kept any printed records, so it will be really hard for him to argue his case,' she said.

Mr Bambridge said: 'The main message is make sure you apply for everything you believe is eligible, regardless of any outstanding mapping issues, but don't leave everything to the last minute.'