NFU urges Defra to deliver prompt payments amid wet weather

The prolonged wet weather is having significant impacts on farming businesses across the country
The prolonged wet weather is having significant impacts on farming businesses across the country

The NFU is urging Defra and related agencies to ensure farmers are paid promptly as the adverse effects of the recent intense and sustained period of rainfall are felt.

The United Kingdom is witnessing rainfall levels 98 percent higher than last year, hurting farming businesses across the country.

Many arable farmers are unable to finish harvesting and are experiencing a severe delay to drilling winter cereals.

Livestock farmers are also being forced to bring in livestock weeks earlier than usual, leading to a longer winter period.



The NFU is urging Defra and its agencies to take a ‘common-sense approach’ to managing the effects of consistent wet weather and flooding.

The union is urging the department, along with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and the Environment Agency, to encourage flexibility and ease the problems of cash flow.



The RPA has been asked to ensure affected farmers receive their BPS payments as early as possible when the payment window opens next month.

The agency has also been asked to consider this weather event as ‘force majeure’ for farmers in agri-environment schemes.

Agreement holders are being urged to contact the RPA if they are prevented from complying with their scheme obligations as a result of continued weather pressures.

NFU Deputy President Guy Smith said the bad weather is hitting arable farmers 'particularly hard' as they cannot finish their harvest or start drilling winter cereals.

“The intense and sustained period of rainfall we have experienced recently has meant farmers and growers have not been able to carry out work on wet and flooded land.

“I’ve heard from members across the country who are increasingly worried about the impacts this will have on their businesses next year, particularly increased financial pressure.

“That’s why it is critical that Defra takes a common-sense approach to how it manages this situation, ensuring affected farmers are paid promptly at the start of the payment window next month.”



Mr Smith added that Defra must be a department which is 'supportive' of farmers and not just 'regulatory'.

“Our future domestic agricultural policy must recognise this and ensure there are measures for farm businesses to manage volatility, particularly in the face of increasingly unpredictable weather,” he said.

The NFU has also written to farming minister George Eustice asking for an extension to the restrictions associated with the disposal, storage and use of flurtamone and chlorothalonil.

With drilling delayed, it is highly likely that some crops will not be drilled to allow applications which would normally have taken place by 20 May.

The union has asked that the dates for sale and supply, and disposal, storage and use are both extended by two months to 20 January 2020 and 20 July 2020 respectively.