Basic Payments Scheme Window Opens

The Rural Payment Agency (RPA) has confirmed that the application window for all Basic Payment Scheme applications in 2018, opens on Tuesday 13th March.

David Morley, of H&H Land and Property, emphasises that due to the latest mapping and eligibility changes, this process could well be more complex than in previous years and all those wishing to claim would be prudent to look at their claims as early as possible.

David Morley

David Morley

The Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) remains the main rural payment for farmers in the EU. It is the biggest of the European Union’s rural grants and payments to help the farming industry. The application process ends in mid-May, with payments beginning in December 2018. Farmers with at least 5 hectares of agricultural land and 5 ‘entitlements’ can apply. It was originally aimed, when introduced in 2015, for beneficiaries of the previous Single Payment Scheme, but those new to farming can apply for entitlements from the reserve, and young farmers under 40, can benefit from extra money too. Some arable farmers need to grow 3 different crops and use 5% of their land for environmentally beneficial measures.

To avoid unnecessary delays in the run up to the 15th May deadline, David gives some timely advice.

“It is vital that farmers submit their Annual Claim by the deadline to continue to receive payments. With the deadline only two months away, claimants will need to start the process as soon as possible to avoid any unnecessary problems or penalties.”

“One key point to remember when completing the BPS Application is that during the last few months, the Rural Payments agency (RPA) have made mapping changes to virtually every holding. A lot of grazed woodland has been made ineligible and will need to be looked at again and in some cases contested.”

“Most farmers have now received their 2017 BPS payment, however there are about 6000 claimants nationally still to be paid. The RPA are in the process of sending out Claim Statements to show how the payment has been calculated. Again, mapping issues may have caused sizeable penalties and reductions, so this is an aspect that should be checked.”

David continues,
“This year, it will be especially important for farmers to check maps are correct before their 2018 application is submitted. They will also need to check their Claim Statement as soon as they receive it to ensure that their payment is correct.”

“In addition to this year’s BPS claim, any claimants with Countryside Stewardship agreements will also need to make their Annual Claim by 15th May. These claims can be made online through Rural Payments. Where they have not done so already, those farmers wishing their agent to submit claims on their behalf, both for BPS and Countryside Stewardship, will need to authorise their agent on the Rural Payments system.”

Farmers with an Environmental Stewardship agreement need to submit a paper ‘Environmental Stewardship’ claim form. These claim forms will be sent out by Natural England during March and the deadline for submission is 15th May 2018.

“It is worth noting”, says David,
“that in most cases with an Environmental Stewardship agreement, further payments are due after the agreement has officially finished, so beneficiaries will most probably need to submit a claim even if their agreement has recently ended.”

“While there are no changes to the cross-compliance rules in 2018, the RPA are making changes as to how they make inspections and apply penalties. In particular, from 1st January 2018, penalties will be applied for the late reporting of cattle births, movements and deaths in the year of inspection. Sheep farmers should also be aware that the RPA will no longer be giving notice of sheep identification inspections.”

“BPS Applications can be made online on the Rural Payments website after 13th March. Given the complexities of the Scheme, likely mapping changes and the short time scale involved, we urge all intending to apply to consider obtaining expert help as soon as possible.”

To recap

  • May 15th is the final deadline for applications, entitlements transfer, and applications to the national reserve.

  • May 31st is the deadline for making certain types of changes to submitted applications without a penalty.

  • June 11th is the deadline for any late applications.

HH Land

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