Farming News - 1.8bn paid out by RPA in first month of payment window
1.8bn paid out by RPA in first month of payment window
The Rural Payments Agency has paid out just under 101,300 eligible claims, totalling £1.8bn for farmers in the first month of the payment window which runs between December and June.
This total represents 98.3% of eligible claims to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), 62.2% of claims to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CS) revenue and 64.6% of claims to the Environmental Stewardship Scheme (ES) 2021.
In addition, across 2021, £66.75m was paid out in Countryside Stewardship Capital Grants which support the establishment and maintenance of woodland and hedges. Just under 5,700 CS Capital claims were paid out within an average of 30 working days.
Through Countryside Stewardship, farmers can apply for funding to improve their local environment – from restoring wildlife habitats and creating woodlands to managing flood risk. Following close working with industry, changes have been made to the scheme this year to broaden out the options available and make it easier to apply.
Following these measures to simplify the scheme, the RPA received a 40% increase in applications for Countryside Stewardship, in comparison to 2020. There are now over 40,000 farmers in England participating in either Countryside Stewardship or legacy Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) schemes. HLS is an Environmental Stewardship agreement for more complex types of management and agreements tailored to local circumstances.
RPA Chief Executive, Paul Caldwell, said:
“We have continued to improve our service helping farmers deliver the best outcomes they can and we’ve worked hard to get payments made as quickly as possible – and will continue to do so.
“I understand how important it is to help farmers through the transition period, to help them secure their future and our key focus is to help everyone make the most of the opportunities from the Agricultural Transition Plan. I am proud of what we have achieved in 2021 and we are focused on delivering more great results for our farmers in 2022.”
Across 2021 the RPA continued to play a crucial role in developing and delivering the Government’s objectives set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan. Building on the progress made in 2020, the Agency worked closely with Defra as the delivery body for the environmental land management schemes and saw the launch of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) pilot with over 2,500 expressions of interest and over 900 applicants.