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Year-overdue farm payments must be urgent priority - Farron

January 20, 2017 11:44 AM

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has raised in parliament the plight of farmers who have been waiting over a year to receive their farm support payments. Tim called in the debate for farmers who haven't received their 2015 payments yet to be made top priority.

Tim challenged the DEFRA Secretary of State Andrea Leadsom about unpaid farm support payments from the 2015 Basic Payment Scheme, asking her "whether the Secretary of State or, indeed, the chairman of the Rural Payments Agency would tolerate waiting 13 and a half months for their salary cheque to arrive".

Many farmers, including here in South Lakeland, have now waited well over a year to receive their money but have still not been paid. It is largely common land farmers that are affected by late payments. Some of those farmers have reportedly been told that outstanding 2015 claims will not be sorted until after the 2016 claims have been sorted.

Tim called on the Minister to put "those commoners, those hill farmers, who were at the back of the queue last year… at the front of the queue this year" and to ensure they are "paid immediately".

The Environment Minister did admit there were still problems, saying "Everybody has received a payment, apart from a very small number".

Commenting afterwards, Tim said: "The RPA's 2015 scheme was a disgrace, and it is made worse each day by the fact that it is still dragging on. Nobody should have to wait over a year to be paid money they are owed.

"I welcome the improvements we are seeing with this year's payment scheme, but it will come as little consolation for farmers still waiting for last year's money. Farmers have bills to pay, land to upkeep and livestock to invest in. Leaving them for over a year without money they are owed is a threat to their livelihoods.

"Farmers who are still waiting for their 2015 payment should have their cases dealt with as a matter of urgent priority."