HILL FARMERS in the Yorkshire Dales, who work some of the toughest land in Britain and who are already under severe financial pressures, have received another blow from the Government: they won't get paid for a year!
After months of bureaucratic squabbling over a new subsidy structure to replace the infamous European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Defra has announced that the new single-payment scheme will not pay out grants until February, 2006.
This means that many farmers, already facing severe financial stress after years of low prices and many still recovering from the foot and mouth debacle, may have to depend on a friendly bank manager to keep them in business this year.
"Now the Rural Payments Agency has announced February 2006 as the earliest probable date for payments under the Single Payment Scheme, it is imperative that farmers and land managers start planning their finances for the coming year," says Dorothy Fairburn, regional director of the Country Land & Business Association (CLA).
"It's disappointing that the payment date is not earlier as it could lead to farmers having cash flow problems and needing to seek bank loans to tide them over.
"To further aid financial planning, we hope that the Rural Payments Agency will ensure that all payments are made within a short as period as possible to avoid some farmers having to hang on until June 2006. We would also hope that the payments for 2006 and thereafter are made within the December of the same year."