Call to support struggling hill farmers

08 December 2015

The CLA in the North is calling on the Government to support hard-pressed hill farmers by freeing up much needed support payments.

Although the majority of farmers will receive their Basic Payment Scheme payments this month (December), farmers who graze common land are unlikely to receive their support payments until February at the earliest.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has written to affected farmers advising them that their entire payment will be delayed due to difficulties calculating the common land element of their claim.

CLA Cumbria Chairman, Mark Southern, who farms near Ulverston, Cumbria is one of the farmers being forced to wait. He said: “It is unfortunate that payment of my claim is to be delayed by at least two months through no fault, error or omission on my part. I filed my claim before 15 May, some six and half months ago.

“The RPA has known about the issues surrounding claims for grazing rights for common land for some time and should have, therefore, steered greater resources, from the outset, into dealing with this complex area of BPS.”

The CLA is calling on the Government to pay hill farmers and other common land claimants part of their claim, as soon as possible, notably the home farm element.

CLA North Regional Director Dorothy Fairburn said: “The large proportion of common land is found in the North of England, which is why our region is being particularly hard hit by this delay.

“The Government has been made well aware of the difficulties facing farmers at this time, with pressure on milk prices, lamb prices and other commodities. In the wake of the flooding in Cumbria in recent days, many hill farmers have now also lost livestock and are having to pay for clean-up operations as well as repairs to damaged buildings, equipment, machinery and fencing.

“We are calling on Government to do whatever they can to help hard hit farmers, for example we are calling on the RPA not to hold up the parts of a claim that can be calculated simply. They should get on and pay these even if there is a delay on paying the more complex elements of the claim.

“Even if they do not receive their full support payment, a part-payment will go a long way towards helping these farmers survive what will undoubtedly be a very difficult Christmas and New Year.”