The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has paid out just over 97,500 claims, totalling £1.725 billion for farmers in the first few days of the payment window, which runs between December and June.
The payments cover the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), Countryside Stewardship (CS) revenue and Environmental Stewardship (ES) schemes. Eligible landowners should expect to receive their full payment within the window.
As announced in the Agricultural Transition Plan, Direct Payments will gradually be reduced over a seven-year period, starting from this BPS year. The biggest reductions will initially be made to the higher payment bands.
This money will be repurposed for schemes that incentivise sustainable farming and 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 the transition period, 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.
Rural Payments Agency chief executive Paul Caldwell said: “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.
“We have already paid more than 97,500 claims, totalling £1.7bn, but we know there is more to do and we understand the importance of these payments to the rural economy.”
Payments are made direct to bank accounts via BACS transfer so farmers are advised to ensure that the RPA has the most up to date details.