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Farmers Subsidy and Stewardship Applications Deadlines

tractor in field

tractor in fieldIt is now the season when members of the Rural Land Agency Department are busy assisting farmers with their various subsidy applications.

The Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) is important to all farmers, with a deadline of 16th May to get the main application and its associated land transfers and changes, and entitlement transfers, submitted accurately and in good time. The BPS application process also requires detailed ‘greening’ calculations which can be quite complex, particularly for the bigger arable and mixed holdings.

In January 2015 the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) announced that 2015 BPS applications would only be accepted online, but later conceded that the online system was not fit for purpose and so, in mid-April, provided paper forms for postal or hand submission. For 2016, RPA are giving applicants the choice of applying online or using paper forms. In both cases these will be pre-populated.

RPA are providing paper forms to anyone who applied on paper in 2014. RPA is encouraging any farmer who applied online in 2014 to do so again in 2016, and will therefore supply pre-populated electronic forms to roughly 60,000 applicants. It remains to be seen whether the online service will be sufficiently reliable for us to make online applications in any numbers however, and if necessary paper forms will be requested for all applicants.

Countryside Stewardship (CS), Environmental Stewardship (ES) and English Woodland Grant Schemes (EWGS) all now require annual claims before the same 16th May deadline and we deal with a good number of these alongside the BPS claims.

Sally Pentreath - Sheldon Bosley - Shipston on StourEach year we also advise and assist several farmers with the transition from expiring ES agreements to the new CS. The application window for this in 2016 runs from mid-March to the end of September to help avoid the problems caused by the shorter 3 month window for CS applications in 2015 which ran from 1st July to 30th September – right through the main harvest time. The CS scheme now encompasses some ‘stand-alone’ schemes, with separate deadlines, such as the Hedgerow and Boundary Grant Scheme and the Woodland Creation scheme, providing capital grants for a range of items.

For more information contact Sally Pentreath at our Shipston office on 01608 661666 or email spentreath@sheldonbosley.co.uk.

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Latest News on The Basic Payment Scheme

Rural Payments AgencyThe Rural Payments Agency continues to struggle with the new BPS and are under pressure to get more payments out.

51% of claimants had been paid by 31st December representing only 29.9% of the money due. There is disquiet about the lack of transparency from RPA for unpaid farmers needing to have a clearer idea when they can expect the money.

BPS Entitlement Statements should be available in February to coincide with a new RPA online Entitlements transfer facility. The online process should be an improvement, being relatively quick and simple with almost instantaneous results.

There should also be a new RPA online Land and Maps Viewing facility available at the end of this month. This will be useful for checking any unexpected deductions for ineligible features or boundary changes.

It will be possible to apply for BPS 2016 either online or on paper forms. Details will follow. The RPA is not expected to attempt to relaunch the online mapping and application combination which failed so badly in 2015.

We will continue to bring you up to date with the latest on the BPS and will be posting more details at the end of January/beginning of February.  In the meantime for more information please contact Sally Pentreath by email spentreath@sheldonbosley.co.uk or call 01608 661666.

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Incorrect BPS Payments

Basic Payment Scheme 2015

blue sky fieldAlthough the RPA claim to have now made 33,000 Basic Payment Scheme payments to farmers, it is becoming clear that some farmers have been underpaid.

The underpayments are due to a failure to pay the greening element where all field parcels are in permanent grass OR failing to take account of properly transferred entitlements.

Please check your claim statements very carefully when they are available in the New Year and forward them to us for checking if you are in any doubt or want help getting the matter rectified.

For assistance or information please contact Laura Gaydon, Associate Partner in our Shipston on Stour office.

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Rural Payments Agency confirms entitlement values for Basic Payment Scheme 2015

blue sky fieldThe Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has confirmed the entitlement values, including those for greening, that will now be used to calculate farmers’ 2015 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments.

The following has been reproduced from the Gov.uk website and explains entitlement values, Greening Rates, the National Reserve and the Young Farmer payment.  Further guidance can also be viewed here.

Entitlement Values

Under the BPS scheme, farmers need to hold an entitlement for every hectare of eligible land they are claiming on. The size of farmers’ payments will depend on how many entitlements they use, supported by eligible land and the value of those entitlements.

Entitlement values are:

BPS:

€ 171.83 for non-SDA (Severely Disadvantaged Areas)

€ 170.60 for upland SDA, other than moorland

€ 45.07 for upland SDA moorland

Greening Rates

Farmers must also meet new greening rules to receive additional funding. The greening part of payments will be calculated by taking the number of entitlements that they have used with eligible land to claim payment and multiplying it by the greening value.

The greening rates are:

€ 76.19 for non-SDA (Severely Disadvantaged Areas)

€ 75.64 for upland SDA, other than moorland

€ 19.99 for upland SDA moorland

The exchange rate that will be applied is €1 = £0.73129

National Reserve

The scheme’s National Reserve – used to fund additional entitlements for the Young and New Farmers – has been set at 0.75%. The RPA will soon be contacting anyone who has applied for entitlements from the National Reserve to confirm if their application has been successful.

Young Farmer Payment

Eligible Young Farmers, who applied, will receive an additional payment equivalent to a quarter of their entitlement value. The RPA remains on track to make full BPS payments as early as possible in the payment window with the majority before the end of December and the vast majority by the end of January 2016.The BPS payment window opens in December and closes in June 2016.

For assistance or information please contact Laura Gaydon, Associate Partner in our Shipston on Stour office.