THE NFU has welcomed the news that a commitment to complete bridging payments by the end of May has been met.

This follows the RPA's announcement that more than 3,800 bridging payments worth about £43m have been made to farmers and land managers.

On April 28, the Government announced that, in recognition of the disruption to cash flow for rural businesses caused by coronavirus, eligible farmers and land managers would be offered bridging payments for 75 per cent of the current estimated value for unpaid 2019 revenue claims on their stewardship agreements.

Over the past month, payments have been made to all eligible outstanding claimants, meeting the RPA’s commitment to complete bridging payments by the end of May.

NFU vice-president Tom Bradshaw said: “The NFU called on the Government to release outstanding 2019 payments for agri-environment schemes earlier this year.

"Given the additional challenges with the appearance of Covid-19, I’m delighted that the RPA has responded and delivered on its promise to complete bridging payments to all eligible outstanding claimants by the end of May.

"I am hopeful that the RPA will deliver on their target of finalising payment processing by the end of June, so that the remaining monies land in farmers' bank accounts in the coming weeks.

“Farmers have finally been rewarded for their vital work enhancing and protecting our environment that was delivered throughout last year.

"This is a positive step and I call on RPA to make full payments for 2020 in December, following what has become a hugely challenging year as a result of Covid-19, a relentlessly wet winter, and now the ongoing dry weather.”

The loans covered Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship 2019 payments, ensuring farmers and land managers are paid for the important work they do to protect the environment.

RPA chief executive Paul Caldwell said: "I am pleased to announce that we have issued all bridging payments to unpaid Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship claims.

"We know this is a challenging period for farmers and we will continue to focus on completing the remaining work on these claims to ensure land managers are paid as quickly as possible."