Land Rover in a field with grazing sheep© FLPA/Rex/Shutterstock

Anyone who wants to claim BPS in 2016 or transfer in entitlements must be an active farmer. This means they must meet the rules on this set out in the European legislation.

To qualify they must complete the active farmer declaration on the BPS 2016 claim. Many farmers will automatically be active farmers but some may need to requalify. To do so they will need to provide extra information on a form completed by their accountant to demonstrate their status.

What is an active farmer?

You must carry out an agricultural activity to be a farmer – producing agricultural products or keeping land in a state suitable for grazing or cultivation.

The active farmer rules then look at if you operate one of five non-agricultural activities.

When am I not automatically an active farmer?

You are not automatically an active farmer if you operate one of those five non-agricultural activities and received more than €5,000 (£3,656.45) BPS 2015 payment (before reductions and penalties). You will need to requalify using one of the three readmission criteria.

See also: BPS 2016 – essential advice for farmers making a claim

What are the five non-agricultural activities?

They are airports, railway services, waterworks, real estate services and permanent sport and recreational grounds (the same as for BPS 2015). See more detail in the BPS 2016 rules online.

How can I requalify as an active farmer?

If you don’t automatically qualify, you can use one of the three readmission criteria. The most straightforward is having 36ha or more of eligible land. That land needs to be included in your BPS 2016 application.

If you don’t have at least 36ha of eligible land, you need to use one of the income test readmission criteria.

What are the income test readmission criteria?

Either your total agricultural receipts were at least 40% of your total receipts or the value of your BPS/SPS claim was equivalent to at least 5% of your total non-agricultural receipts. Both should be based on the most recent financial year for which you have accounts.

You will need an accountant to complete the ‘Active farmer accountant certificate’ and return it to the RPA by 16 May 2016. The RPA must be sent a new certificate for BPS 2016 even if you sent one last year.

Can I transfer in entitlements now?

If you claimed BPS 2015 and completed the active farmer declaration on your BP5 form, you can transfer entitlements in now.

That active farmer declaration stands until you submit your BPS 2016 application.

If you are a new farmer, you need to complete a stand-alone active farmer declaration.