Mark Grimshaw invited to Cumbria to discuss non payment of BPS on commons

The Federation along with NFU and CLA have sent a joint letter to Mark Grimshaw, CEO RPA asking for answers to a number of issues about payment of BPS 2015 and inviting him to come to meet with representatives of the farming community in Cumbria to discuss the current situation regarding non-payment of BPS on common land. 

The letter:

Dear Mr Grimshaw

BPS payments issues for commoners

The NFU North West, The Federation of Cumbria Commoners and the CLA would like to take the opportunity to raise a major concern on behalf of the upland farmers of the North West whose BPS payments include common land.

On the 24th November 2015, the NFU North West wrote to George Eustace raising concerns about delayed payments to farms which included commons in their BPS claims.  The letter highlighted the fact that the applicants with commons would not be paid in the early tranche of payments and would be paid in the later part of the payment window.  It is therefore extremely disappointing that nearly a year on many farmers are no nearer to being paid or having their BPS issues resolved.

This is particularly disappointing, as the uplands farmers with commons are some of those most in need of the payments being made promptly.   As a sector, it has the lowest returns from any farming enterprise and therefore is most heavily exposed to any delay in this payment.   Many of the farmers who farm the commons are also engaged with Agri-Environmental schemes and so have been in recent years impacted by the re-alignment of the payment window and also delays impacted by BPS 2015 processing issues.  This has meant that they did not receive a much needed payment in early autumn 2015.  Therefore, BPS payments for farmers with common land has been needed more than ever in the last year. 

We would like to extend an invitation to you and your colleagues to come to meet with representatives of the farming community in Cumbria to discuss the current situation regarding non-payment of BPS on common land.  

We would like the discussion to focus on the following issues:

  • For those who have only had a bridging payment to date, why has a top up payment not been issued and when will these farmers receive their outstanding monies?
  • RPA state that progress on correcting payments is well underway, but why have many with common land not seen any additional payments and when will these farmers receive their outstanding monies?
  • What support is being put in place to help commoners and upland claimants understand their 2015 BPS claims going forward?
  • What are the latest plans and timescales to look at adjusting common land allocations, entitlements and payments in light of the Minchinhampton and Rodborough legal challenge?
  • What are the prospects for commoners and upland farmers receiving their 2016 BPS payments this December?
  • Can RPA confirm that all commoners will be in position of knowing their BPS 2015/2016 claim positions (payments/corrected entitlement allocations) by the time the BPS 2017 application window opens?
  • What steps are being put into place to avoid the issues seen to date reoccurring in a year’s time?

We look forward to hearing from you to arrange a potential date for a visit to the region.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

David Hall                                                  Dorothy Fairburn                                    Viv Lewis

NFU North West Regional Director        CLA Director North                                      Federation of Cumbria Commoners