Farmers facing major changes to the way that subsidies are paid by the government are being offered specialist advice to make sure that they are properly prepared for the new scheme which comes into place on the 1 January next year.
The changes include a new payment scheme for which application must be made online.
Expert staff at a leading northern land agents are now providing advice, helping to simplify the complex process and even making the online claims on behalf of farmers.
David Hill, the rural property specialist and land agent which acts for farmers in all agricultural matters, is aiming to ease the transition and make sure that individual applicants make the switch to the new scheme successfully.
“Our daily involvement with the scheme on behalf of clients means that we are up-to-date and able to ensure that everything runs smoothly,” said rural surveyor Emma Bancroft.
The current Single Payment Scheme (SPS) will be replaced on January 1 next year by the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). This includes new ‘greening’ rules that claimants must follow in order to claim the full payment available and recording extra information such as the claimant’s National Insurance number. The minimum claim size is also being increased from 1 hectare to 5 hectares.
An earlier deadline of October 21, next month, has to be met if farmers want to transfer their SPS entitlements under the existing scheme using an RLE1 form. “We appreciate how confusing this is proving to be for many farmers, and we can help them on a one to one basis to make sure that they don’t lose out,” said Miss Bancroft.
The company can also advise on the new greening conditions. Failure to comply will result in the loss of part or all of the greening payment. Conditions include crop diversification where farmers may be required to grow a minimum number of different crops on their arable land annually, Ecological Focus Areas and maintaining permanent pasture.
The BPS also has a new ‘active farmer’ test and details of this will be available next month. Some of the existing Cross Compliance rules have changed and new rules have been added, in particular with regard to soil management.
“As well as the new scheme and the new rules, many farmers are concerned about applying online as this is now the only way that they can get their money,” said Miss Bancroft. “We can offer advice as to how the new scheme applies to them individually, discuss the new rules and make the online claim on their behalf via the new CAP Information Service”.
The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will shortly be writing to existing claimants with details of how to register with the CAP Information Service in order to claim BPS. The RPA will also be writing to those claimants with less than five hectares. “We can offer advice on the options available to these claimants,” said Miss Bancroft.
Farmers who want help are asked to contact Emma Bancroft on 01756 795621.