I am pleased to be able to make a statement about the opening of the window for payments to farmers in England under the EU common agricultural policy single payment scheme (SPS) for 2012.
On 3 December 2012 the Rural Payments Agency paid more than £1.38 billion to more than 95,000 farmers, meeting its target for the end of December 2012 on the first banking day of the payment window. This equates to 84.6% of the estimated fund value and 91.4% of customers, and represents the best ever performance on the part of the agency. This is excellent news for English farmers and for the wider rural economy.
As last year, the agency shortly will be contacting farmers who are unlikely to be paid during December to explain what additional work must be done to validate their claims and to clarify the arrangements for payment.
The agency is working to a ministerial commitment, set out in its business plan for 2012-13, to pay 84% of payments by value and 91% of customers by number by 31 December 2012, and 97% of payments and 97% of customers by end March 2013.