BPS back on track but still much to do by December 1 says NFU

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The NFU has welcomed news from the RPA that its target for applications in by the June 15 deadline appears to have been reached.

However, NFU Vice President Guy Smith said it was not yet clear exactly how many applicants had failed to meet the deadline but that the figure of over 80,000 applications received seemed to cover the vast majority.

Mr Smith also said that there was no obvious ‘11th-hour’ last-minute panic with farmers and agents rushing to drop-in centres – which were well resourced and well-ordered, keeping waiting times to a minimum.

“We congratulate the RPA for doing what it could to ensure applications got in on time, such as extended opening hours at drop-in centres and use of mobile units,” said Mr Smith.

“In May we had significant reservations about progress but it would seem since then things have been put back on track. However we are conscious a month has been lost this year in the BPS cycle so we call on Government to make sure the RPA has resource necessary to ensure they have every chance of commencing payment by December 1.

“With farm cash flows heading into troubled waters, many farmers will need to see BPS payments hit bank accounts early to keep their businesses afloat. We should also remember there are knock-on effects for the wider rural economy.

“We also call on the EU Commission to recognise that there are fundamental problems with implementing the new CAP that stem from poor design. Unless they are flexible with enforcement and disallowance there is the risk farmers will be unfairly penalised through no fault of their own in the coming months.”

RPA chief executive Mark Grimshaw is due to attend the open session at NFU Council on Tuesday June 23.