FARMERS across Worcestershire are being alerted to a key deadline change which may help their financial planning during the coronavirus crisis.

Helen Gough, a leading agricultural lawyer and partner at county firm mfg Solicitors, said many farmers may have overlooked that the deadline to submit claims for direct payments has been extended by one month, from May 15 to June 15.

Ms Gough, a nationally-respected expert who advises farmers, landowners and rural businesses, said: “In the past six weeks the world has been very different.

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"This has made it difficult for farmers to meet with their agents and so some farmers may miss key deadlines, or be aware of updates and date changes. One of those changes relates to direct payments to farmers.

“The UK left the CAP scheme when the country stepped away from the European Union earlier this year. Under our withdrawal agreement, most EU regulations governing CAP farm support ceased to apply.

"New legislation was introduced so that when we left the EU, the CAP payment scheme became part of our domestic law to ensure that farmers could receive their payment for the 2020 scheme year.

“With the 15 May deadline to submit claims for this payment only a matter of days away, farmers, and their agents, need to be aware that due to Covid-19 the Government has extended the deadline to midnight on 15 June.

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"If they need to amend an application they have until the 30 June to do so without incurring a penalty.

“Overall, many farmers are at risk of missing or misunderstanding deadlines so the rule of thumb is to engage as quickly as possible with their agents and advisors.”

All applications must be received by the Rural Payments Agency by 10 July and it should be noted that penalties will apply to those applications made after 15 June, up until 10 July.

Ms Gough added that applications for the Countryside Stewardship Higher-Tier Scheme ended on 1 May.

However, farmers can still apply for a Mid-Tier agreement with applications now being accepted up until 31 July. Farmers can contact Natural England through their off-farm advice programme to book a clinic session.