A total of 97% of farmers received their final BPS payment in the first few days of the payment window, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has announced.
This means that a further £525 million has now been released into the rural economy, building on the advance payments made in August this year.
So far over 91,000 applications and claims have been completed across the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), Countryside Stewardship (CS) revenue and Environmental Stewardship (ES) schemes. A further £70 million under the Environmental Stewardship scheme will be issued in the next few days.
Defra said these payments support farmers in running profitable and productive businesses while delivering environmental outcomes in a range of habitats.
It acted on feedback to support farmers improve their cashflow by releasing Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) payments early. Farmers who have a live Sustainable Farming Incentive 2023 agreement before the end of this year will receive an accelerated payment worth 25% of the annual value of their agreement in the first month of their agreement, helping with cashflow and ensuring SFI works for farm businesses.
Around 850 farmers whose agreements started in October and November have now received their early payment, with a total £2.8 million paid, and those whose agreements started on 1 December are set to receive their payment in the coming days.
The announcement precedes the move to delinked payments, which are due to replace BPS in England in 2024 and will run until the end of 2027. Delinked payments will be based on the average BPS payment made to the business for the 2020 to 2022 scheme years.
Defra will apply progressive reductions when it calculates delinked payments each year. Farmers must also have claimed and been eligible for BPS 2023 to receive delinked payments. There is no need to apply for delinked payments and RPA will pay anyone who is eligible.
All eligible farmers should receive their CS/ES and final BPS 2023 payments payment before the end of the payment window on June 30, 2024. Defra said it was working hard to complete the checks and pay the remainder as promptly as possible but some claims can take longer to complete.
RPA Chief Executive Paul Caldwell said: “This year farmers and rural businesses have continued to face a number of challenges and that’s why the RPA has been working hard to improve cash flow and make sure farmers receive their final BPS payments as quickly as possible.
“Delinked payments will provide financial support over the next four years as we encourage farmers and land managers to enter our environmental land management schemes where they will be paid to take actions that will support sustainable food production while protecting the environment.”