Farming News - At last - overdue stewardship agreements to be paid in full

At last - overdue stewardship agreements to be paid in full

19 Jun 2019
Frontdesk / Finance

Payments will be made in full in July to eligible farmers in agri-environment schemes who are still waiting to be paid, the government has confirmed today (19 June).

Farmers and land managers in Environmental Stewardship (ES) and Countryside Stewardship (CS) agreements do important work to protect the countryside. However, a significant number of agreement holders have not yet received full payment for work they have undertaken.

ES and CS customers with unpaid annual revenue claims, some dating back to 2015, will receive a payment for the full amount they are owed by the end of July which means around 22,500 eligible farmers in agri-environment schemes will be paid the owed £115m in July.

This is a Treasury-funded payment, which will be made to farmers and land managers while their annual revenue claims from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget are processed.

RPA Chief Executive Paul Caldwell said:

“Today we are announcing that outstanding revenue claims for agri-environment schemes will be paid in full.

“We are determined to build on the improvements that we have already put in place, keep up a regular cycle of timely payments, and restore confidence in these schemes which are so important for our environment.”

The RPA is writing to all unpaid customers this week to provide an update on payments. Once individual claims have been processed, the RPA will write again to customers to confirm any adjustments to be made to the final payment.

Taking land out of production for species-rich meadows, building ponds to provide a water source for wildlife, or planting trees for carbon sequestration are a few of the options under ES and CS that farmers and land managers are currently paid for.

The future Environment Land Management (ELM) scheme, which will replace CS and ES once we leave the EU, will undergo tests and trials with farmers and industry groups before being rolled out. It is expected to be fully operational in late 2024.

NFU Deputy President Guy Smith said: “This news from the RPA will help provide much-needed relief for those farming businesses waiting on outstanding Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship payments.

“We have been calling for the Government to sort this out. At NFU Conference in February, Michael Gove admitted that the Countryside Stewardship scheme was “still in a mess” and that the Government must do better.

“The news comes as we had worked with one of our legal panel firms, Thrings, through our Legal Assistance Scheme to assist individual farmer members in pursuing their debt claims against the RPA. Hopefully this service will no longer be necessary.

“However, we will continue to monitor the situation to make sure these overdue payments are made in full and at last hit farm bank accounts.”