More than half of farm and agriculture agents and advisors in England have registered on to the new rural payments service as a first step to helping their clients to claim under the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) in 2015.
The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) contacted around 1,200 agents last month to provide support in registering and becoming some of the first users of the new system.
This included more than 170 firms of agents; individual agents; professional advisors and others who support farmers to make their claims.
So far over 140 firms of agents and more than 750 agents have registered on the service and they are now being encouraged to help the 32,000 farmers, landowners and food producers they represent to register. Their clients need to register on the service to give agents permission to be able to act on their behalf.
Change Director Ian Hewett said:
There is lots for farmers, food producers and landowners to do this year. The new rules mean we will have to gather lots of new information and our customers will need to check that information they have already given us is still correct.
It made sense to start the significant registration activity on the new service with agents, as their clients are expected to account for around one third of the claimants for the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).
We are pleased that more than half of agents have now registered and would urge those that have not already done so to register as soon as possible.
We are building a new digital service to make it as easy as possible for them to help their customers to get their money.
Registering early helps agents give the best service to their clients.
Agents who have not yet registered should get started as soon as possible by going to gov.uk/ruralpayments. Farmers wanting to use an agent will only be able to do so if the agent is registered on the service.
Support has been developed to help agents with the registration process including a site visit (if requested), webinars and information on GOV.UK.
Increasing numbers of individual farmers and land owners, who do not currently use agents, will be invited to register on the new service very soon.
The online service is the only way for customers to claim their rural payments money and they are advised to make sure they register as soon as they are invited.