Subsidy delays could force farmers out of business

DOZENS of farmers in Somerset could be forced to quit their businesses after some haven't been paid last year's Government subsidies. The rural payments scheme was supposed to give out money to farmers in October last year. But most were not paid until J

DOZENS of farmers in Somerset could be forced to quit their businesses after some haven't been paid last year's Government subsidies.The rural payments scheme was supposed to give out money to farmers in October last year.But most were not paid until July and some have yet to receive thousands of pounds worth of subsidies.Farmers fear they will have to take out more loans if the Government's Rural Payment Agency (RPA) fails to pay this year's subsidies between December and June next year.Weston National Farmer's Union (NFU) chairman Mark Amesbury represents members in Wedmore, Axbridge, Cheddar and Mark. He said: "I could definitely see people being pushed out of business by not receiving these payments on time."Some of my members are still waiting for last year's payments and we're convinced the Government is not going to make this year's targets in December."Loads of farmers are well into their overdrafts and they're going to have to take out more loans again by the look of things."The new system calculates a single annual subsidy for each farmer for looking after their land, rather than a series of payments for producing food.The RPA replaced the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy.RPA spokesman Alan Wheeler said initial plans had been made to make partial payments if the department was running late again.He said: "We faced major delays in the scheme during its first year. There are only 4,500 farmers who have not been paid now."There's pressure from farmers to make partial payments at the start of the payment window and the secretary of state will look at that.


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