The government has announced that farmers and land managers with a 2017 Countryside Stewardship (CS) agreement will receive a Bridging Payment for 75% of the current estimated value of their claim.

CS Mid Tier agreement holders who claimed in 2017 for their revenue payment will receive a bridging payment by the end of June if they have not been paid by 21 June 2018.

While some 82% of 2017 CS claimants have already received a payment for the important environmental work on their farms, bridging payments are being made to ensure that the remaining 18% of farmers and land managers are not left out of pocket for the work and time they have invested.

The NFU has welcomed Defra’s announcement on bridging payments now being available for some Countryside Stewardship agreement holders, but says all in agri-environment schemes –HLS, ELS and CS Higher-Tier or Mid-Tier – who are owed payment should be eligible.

The NFU has expressed concern over the announcement made today that only agreement holders since 2017 will be eligible for a bridging payment.

NFU deputy president Guy Smith said: “Agreement holders of any sort that are left waiting for payment should be eligible for a bridging payment. The principle is rather simple: if Defra accept the case that it’s not acceptable to expect agreement holders to wait any longer for money owed then that clearly applies to all those waiting not just a minority."

A bridging payment is an interest-free loan to customers in advance of their full year payment. Customers will receive 75% of the current estimated value of their CS 2017 revenue claim. When the full payment is processed and made, the amount paid through the bridging payment will be held back.

Letters and emails are being sent to farmers and land managers awaiting payments this week, with a reminder to make sure bank account and contact details on the Rural Payments Service are up-to-date so that bridging payments can be made successfully.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is administrating the payments on behalf of Natural England. This comes ahead of administration work on agri-environment schemes transferring to the RPA later this year.