Farmers across the Yorkshire Dales will start receiving their full payments in February under the Single Payment Scheme, Farming Minister Lord Bach confirmed today.
A total of £1.6 billion will be paid directly into farmers' and growers' bank accounts or by payable order, starting at the end of February and with the bulk complete in March.
All payments will be made within the window set by EU legislation which runs until 30th June this year. Computer problems at the Governments newly created Rural Payments Agency (RPA) had threatened to delay payments beyond February as promised by the Government.
Announcing the payments, Lord Bach said; "I am very pleased to confirm what we said more than a year ago - that full payments will begin in February. I hope this announcement will provide some reassurance to the farming industry".
Acknowledging the frustration felt by many in the farming community, Lord Bach added; "Staff at the Rural Payments Agency have worked extremely hard to make this possible and I am most grateful to them. I also want to acknowledge the co-operation and patience of everyone who has made a claim".
The new Single Payment Scheme (SPS) is a key part of the 2003 reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy and rolls 11 old schemes into one, removing the link between payments and production and replaced most of the existing crop and livestock payments.
Responding to fears that the changes will devastate farming incomes, Lord Bach said; "It encourages farmers to be more innovative in responding to consumer demand while setting new standards of sustainable agriculture and environmental protection".
Adding; "The start of these payments signals a milestone in the development of a modern farming industry in this country, one which is no longer driven by subsidies".
The Rural Payments Agency will now press ahead to definitively establish entitlements on February 14th. Farmers will then be informed of their individual details within two weeks.