It was reported in the Cumberland News that George Eustice, Minister of State, Defra told the audience at the Northern Farmer Conference in Hexham, last week that as far as he was aware all commoners had now received their 2015 farm payments. We know that this is not true, but then he may have been misreported.
Today I sent him the following e-mail and I will post his response when I receive it.
We have just written to Liz Truss, Secretary of State Defra, Mark Grimshaw, CEO of RPA and our local MPs. We are asking for answers as to why no commoner has received their BPS 2015 payment yet. With the deadline for BPS 2016 applications coming up quickly, and commoners not having sight of their 2015 payment scehdule, we want assurances that their BPS 2016 claims will not be penalised as a result of RPA's maladministration.
Below is the text of the letter. We'll let you know when we get a response.
Did you know that you can be formally released from your Environmental Stewardship (ES) commitments where unforeseeable events, such as flooding mean that it is impossible or impractical for you to meet the terms of your ES Agreement.
Force Majeure applies when there is long term damage and you are unable to meet the management prescription required, for example:
We have received the following from Natural England.
Natural England recognises that there will be situations where lower lying ground will not be available for grazing or for holding livestock due to the floods. As such Natural England will waive normal restrictions on winter stock numbers on intake, fell and common land in the following circumstances:
To help those affected Natural England are temporarily lifting all the requirements that normally apply to Environmental Stewardship agreements and protected sites, so that farmers and others are better able to deal with the problems caused by this week’s terrible weather.
Simon Humphries, Natural England`s Area Manager for Cumbria said:
A delay of up to four months for agri-environment scheme payments to farmers in England will put added pressure on farm businesses at a time when thousands are facing low farmgate prices. Natural England has told the NFU that payments, usually expected in August, will start being made to farmers in October but the majority of transactions won’t take place in November and December. This is partly due to IT failures in the spring and the extension of claim deadlines for the BPS and agri-environment scheme.