The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) yesterday announced the value of Single Farm Payment for the 2013 claim, an announcement that has been keenly awaited by farmers for whom the annual subsidy represents a key source of income to bolster low or volatile produce prices.
As in previous years, payments vary depending upon the productivity of the land farmed and fall into three categories. This year the payments per hectare are:
€323.97 for non-SDA.
€260.29 for SDA.
€45.47 for moorland
This year, the rates are almost identical to those of the 2012 scheme.
However, a stronger exchange rate with the euro of £0.83605 means claimants will see a slight increase in payments compared to 2012. The payment window for the 2013 claim will open in the first week of December.
Guy Sampson, a rural practice chartered surveyor at George F White in Alnwick, Northumberland, said: “In real terms, payments should come in at approximately £86.26/acre for non-SDA land, £69.34/acre for SDA and £12.25/acre for SDA moorland.”
This year, the announcement of claim values came later than usual because of an additional factor called Financial Discipline which needed to be calculated before the final values could be set.
Mr Sampson explained: “Financial Discipline is an adjustment to payments which can be used by Europe when there isn’t quite enough in the pot.
“This year, partly because of the new Eastern European entrants into the EU, the Single Payment Scheme budget has to go a bit further and so, Europe-wide, everybody is having a small amount knocked off their claim.
“This year, for the first time, the European Commission has implemented Financial Discipline at a rate of about 2.45%. This is generally positive news for claimants however, being a lesser reduction than was feared, and actual payments for 2013 will be slightly higher than 2012.”
There were fears that this year’s payments could be delayed until after Christmas to allow the Financial Discipline calculations to be carried out but this is not now expected to be a problem.
Mr Sampson added: “Looking ahead, next year could possibly be the last when severely disadvantaged areas (SDAs) will receive a lower payment than more productive land.
“Defra is currently proposing to ‘push money up the hill’ - paying both areas an equal payment per hectare from 2015, by applying a small reduction to non-SDA land, and a significant increase to SDA land.”
This proposal is open to consultation and comments can be submitted until next Thursday.