Young farmers were reassured their opinions matter on issues connected to the agricultural transition and were encouraged to speak out by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and the Farming Advice Service (FAS).
The two organisations attended a recent YFC AGRI meeting with YFC members and shared their eagerness to interact more frequently with all farmers to enhance existing support.
Sandy Kapila, RPA Head of External Affairs and FAS Stakeholder Manager Dave Freeman both shared an overview of their current work and future goals.
FAS discussed the technical advice it delivers for Basic Scheme Payment (BPS) recipients to navigate the current and future Defra changes.
The RPA shared information about the role it plays in the current agricultural transition. The agency (in England) administers schemes and services that makes payments to farmers, traders and landowners to support the delivery of outcomes. It also ensures the obligations to manage public money are met.
There was plenty of time for discussion between young farmers and RPA colleagues. Topics covered the changing attitude and service from the RPA, uptake of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) scheme, farmer and young farmer meetings, and the intention of working towards a more streamlined service for farmers.
Amid the discussion was a request for positive interaction between all government agencies to make farmers’ grant or scheme applications easier. Future SFI options for non-BPS recipients, future Defra budgets and the simplification and streamlining of agri-schemes were also debated.
With an election on the agenda for 2024, young farmers were encouraged to raise their farming questions, hopes and suggestions with MPs during the months ahead.
Dave Freeman said:
“It was great to join Sandy for this particular young farmer meeting as I’ve sat on both sides of the fence as part of a former RPA industry stakeholder group and now a collaborator with the agency.
“NFYFC has a place and active input for both the FAS industry stakeholder group and the RPA welfare group, so there is meaningful conversation and feedback already, but we all want to make sure that young farmers’ voices are heard as policy changes progress.”
Both FAS and the RPA hold regular stakeholder meetings to ensure farming voices are represented and acted upon.
Sandy Kapila said:
“The agency recognises the need to get out and about more to see people to encourage questions and most importantly provide answers to help everyone’s current business and future aspirations.
“The agricultural transition has been a challenge as well as an opportunity.The RPA is in listening mode and our ambassadors have been out and about to ensure that we are providing updates, and that feedback from farmers is taken on board. working closely with our many farmers is essential to ensure that we provide a service that works for farmers and achieves Defra’s objectives.”
FAS provides an online dedicated service and helpline as well as newsletters and events to ensure that farmers are kept up to date with all compliance requirements, policy changes, scheme and grant offers and advice.
Ricardo is applying its expertise, garnered from supporting over 30,000 farmers through running the Farming Advice Service for England and the Farm Advisory Service for Scotland, to offer a Future Farming Resilience Fund (FFRF). The Defra-funded programme will help farmers and land managers across England get their farming business ready for the future with free bespoke business and environmental advice.
If YFCs would like to include a Farming Advice Service (FAS) or Rural Payments Agency (RPA) presentation and discussion within their club programme over the next few months, please contact: