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Farmers: Support Payments

Volume 612: debated on Thursday 7 July 2016

9. If the Government will underwrite basic payment scheme payments at current levels until the end of 2020. (905722)

Until we leave the EU it will be business as usual; farmers will continue to receive support payments. We are developing options for future domestic policy. Ultimately this will be a decision for the new Prime Minister. I am working very closely with organisations such as the National Farmers Union, the Country Land and Business Association, and environmental groups, which will have a role to play in helping us develop these policies.

I am very pleased to hear that groups such as the NFU and the CLA are going to be involved in finding a way out of this mess. Can the Minister guarantee that the CAP subsidy up to 2020 will be underwritten not just for the basic payment scheme but for pillar 2 schemes—agri-environment schemes?

As I said, until we leave the EU those schemes will be in place, but when leaving takes place, after article 50 is triggered and the process is gone through, this will be a decision for the new Prime Minister. It is not a decision I can make at this stage.

It is not only important to keep the basic farm payment going but vital that we get it fixed, because the Rural Payments Agency is still having big problems. Lots of the payments to farmers have not been ratified and not properly made. What is actually happening with the Rural Payments Agency?

I can tell my hon. Friend that 99.6% of farmers have now received a payment. This year, for the first time, the system has had prepayment cheques to make sure that we did not overpay farmers and then end up having to claw back the money. That means that there will be a reconciliation period when we make the adjustments—that is taking place at the moment—so that farmers who had a problem in their application will receive the extra payment over the next few months. We are fully on track for payment on time next year.