The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is under fire after suggesting that farmers waiting for delayed support payments should turn to charity for help.

The blunder came to light after Peak District hill farmer Jim Beary revealed that the agency wrote to him last month saying he wouldn’t be receiving his annual basic payment before the end of December – despite the promise of a part payment.

“This is unacceptable asking us to contact a charity!” said Mr Beary, who was unable to make any silage this year due to poor grass growth. “Many farmers are in the same position. 

“[They] have basically just ticked all of the easy boxes first and anyone with any discrepancy or issue they have put to the back of the queue.

“I feel quite angry because our livestock farmers who have a shortage of feed have not been given any help. After the last 12 months, this is the worst thing that could be happening.”

NFU deputy president Guy Smith said he had also received the same letter, but was ‘not sure combining notification of delayed payments along with signposting charities that support farmers in times of stress is RPA’s smartest move’.

An RPA spokesperson added:

“We have made significant progress so far in making BPS payments to farmers, with at least 90 per cent of payments on track to be made by the end of December.

“We are focused on getting all remaining payments into bank accounts as soon as possible.”