Thursday 22 October 2015

The Foundation for Common Land is concerned for the welfare of hill farmersand their families on whom the future of common land is dependent if the BPS paymenst are severly delayed.

Today we have issued a press release as follows:

At the NFU Council Meeting on 13th October Mark Grimshaw, CEO of the Rural Payments Agency stated that common land BPS claimants are complex cases so unlikely to receive payments until February 2016 at the earliest.

There are over 4,000 farmers who claim BPS on common land with most of these being hill farmers. This means approximately one-third of England 10,000 upland farmers will have their essential BPS payments severely delayed. These commoners look after England’s most designated and highly valued resource – common land. 58% of common land is SSSI and over 80% is in designated landscapes – National Parks and AONBs.

The Foundation for Common Land is a registered charity seeking to improve the public benefits from grazed common land. Essential to delivering this objective is the sustainable management of the uplands by commoners many who run small marginal businesses where BPS represents over 25% of their gross farm income. They will incur a delay of up to 4 months compared with other farms who expect their payment by the end of January. All 2015 BPS payments are required to be paid by 30th June 2016.

This delay will impact on cash flow at a critical time of year when the majority of bills are incurred and could result in extra overdraft and interest charges.The RPA were asked if they could make payments on the non common land element of the claim and while the RPA is exploring this it is understood that partial payments may well not be authorised. Further details are expected in early November.

The Foundation for Common Land is concerned for the welfare of hill farmers and their families on whom the future of common land is dependent. This delay could significantly affect commoners’ ability to farm in a manner that respects the multiple environmental services produced by common land as farmers seek to cut costs and find other income sources. Examples include winter feeding practice, management of landscape features and stocking levels.

You can download the press release