A HEREFORDSHIRE MP has spoken out for county farmers in a debate.

Sir Bill Wiggin, Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire, contributed in a debate on delinked payments in agriculture that took place last week.

The NFU says delinked payments are the way the Rural Payments Agency in England will issue direct payments between 2024 and 2027. They replaced the Basic Payment Scheme, which ended in 2023.

"Warm-up communications were circulated in November 2023, explaining the transition away from BPS, along with information statements which were issued in November and December 2023 explaining what an individual business’ reference amount is and therefore what delinked payments will be based on," the NFU said

"As with BPS, these payments will continue to be subjected to progressive reductions until 2027."

The NFU said the final delinked payments would be made in 2027 in England, and that recipients will not need to continue farming, have land or entitlements, to be able to receive payments, but must have applied for BPS in 2023 to be eligible for delinked payments from 2024-2027.

Sir Bill said he had stuck up at the debate for the 88,000 farmers across the UK who may face lower incomes.

Figures from DEFRA suggest that the smallest farms will receive a reduction of 50 per cent in direct support, with this number rising to 70 per cent for the largest farms, a spokesperson for Sir Bill said.

Sir Bill said: "New schemes will provide public money for public goods instead of direct payments.

"This comes at a particularly difficult time. The past 18 months have been the wettest since 1836, meaning many crop yields will be significantly reduced this summer.

"It is no easier for livestock farmers. The lambing period has been incredibly difficult, and in addition there is very likely a new introduction of bluetongue virus into the UK.

"The incomes of about 2,000 farmers in my constituency may be down because, as the Minister said earlier, more people are eligible for a piece of the funding stream.

"The Minister called it a cake. I would have perhaps described it more as a custard pie being rubbed into our farmers’ faces."

"Therefore, I would ask the Minister to get his Majesty’s Revenues and Customs to look at the incomes of the 88,000 farmers, and make sure that they are not falling," he said.

"We need to use the Treasury much more cleverly, we need better tax breaks, rather than handouts, and we need to look at the cost of red diesel, because that is a direct way of subsidising food production.”

Since the debate, Sir Bill has written to DEFRA to inquire about the laying and maintenance of hedges, and has also written to HMRC to ask them to look into farmers’ incomes to ensure that they do not go down.