The Rural Payments Agency paid just under 101,300 eligible claims, totaling £ 1.8bn for farmers in the first month of the payments window which runs from December to June.
This total represents 98.3% of claims eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), 62.2% of claims for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CS) and 64.6% of claims for the Environmental Stewardship Scheme (ES) 2021.
In addition, during the year 2021, £ 66.75million was provided in the form of Countryside Stewardship Investment Grants, which support the establishment and maintenance of forests and hedges. Just under 5,700 CS Capital claims were settled in 30 business days on average.
Through Countryside Stewardship, farmers can apply for funding to improve their local environment – from restoring wildlife habitats and creating forests to managing flood risk. Following close collaboration with industry, modifications have been made to the program this year to expand the options available and facilitate its application.
Following these measures to simplify the system, RPA received a 40% increase in Countryside Stewardship requests, compared to 2020.
There are now over 40,000 farmers in England participating in either the Countryside Stewardship programs or the legacy Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) programs. HLS is an environmental stewardship agreement for more complex types of management and agreements tailored to local circumstances.
RPA Chief Executive Officer Paul Caldwell said:
We have continued to improve our service by helping farmers achieve the best possible results and we have worked hard to get payments made as quickly as possible – and will continue to do so.
I understand how important it is to help farmers during the transition period, to help them secure their future and our main goal is to help everyone make the most of the opportunities of the Agricultural Transition Plan. I am proud of what we achieved in 2021 and we are focused on getting better results for our farmers in 2022.
Throughout 2021, RPA continued to play a critical role in shaping and achieving the government‘s goals set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan. Building on the progress made in 2020, the Agency worked closely with Defra as the implementing body for environmental land management programs and saw the launch of the pilot project to encourage land use. sustainable agriculture (SFI) with over 2,500 expressions of interest and over 900 applicants.
RPA provided a number of other programs and supports in 2021:
- The agency opened the window for 2022 Campaign Stewardship Agreements to allow farmers to apply for funding to improve their local environment, from restoring wildlife habitats and creating forests to managing flood risk. . Working closely with farmers and land managers, changes were made to the program this year to expand the options available and make it easier to apply.
- The Agency has seen increased interest in the new investment grant program for 2021 with more than 3,000 applications received to improve air quality, water quality, boundary trees and orchards or a mix of these options.
- The Countryside Productivity Small Grants Scheme has provided investments in specific equipment that improves the productivity and efficiency of agricultural and horticultural businesses, released £ 16million out of just over 2,800 eligible claims.
- In December, RPA launched the first Agricultural Investment Fund, comprising the Agricultural Equipment and Technology Fund and the Water Management theme of the Agricultural Transformation Fund. Farmers will get a £ 27million pot to invest in productivity-enhancing equipment.
- RPA opened a sixth round of the popular Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund in December 2021. The £ 2.5million fund encourages collaboration and knowledge sharing within the farming community to protect and improve their local environment, in line with to their local Countryside Stewardship priorities.
- The government has announced a package of measures to support the pork industry, seeking to reduce the animal welfare implications of keeping pigs on farms. The RPA launched the Slaughter Incentive Program (SIPS) aimed at increasing the throughput of pigs by contributing to the additional costs of operating additional slaughter teams in slaughterhouses and a program to support pigs. private storage (PSA) to contribute to cold storage costs of the product.
RPA attended shows and events across the country, providing regular updates on progress and hearing firsthand farmers’ experiences, which helped improve future services. The RPA also hosted several regional roundtables with English MPs and their constituents as they continued to learn, engage and focus on program implementation and helping farming and rural communities to grow. adapt to changes over the next few months.