Beef cow with stock bull© Tim Scrivener

Farmers Weekly’s Business Clinic experts offer free advice on legal, finance, tax, insurance, farm management and land issues. Here Douglas Ogilvie, agribusiness consultant, Savills give some advice on how to keep on top of record-keeping to avoid losing any money from your BPS payment.

Q: A neighbour recently had livestock inspections relating to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). What do I need to do to make sure my beef and sheep business is safe from penalties?

A: In order to avoid a penalty, good record keeping and tagging is essential, combined with a regular review of your cross compliance obligations. That way if your farm is inspected the necessary records will be on hand and your responsibilities for receipt of BPS met.

See also: 10 most common cross-compliance breaches and how to avoid them

Douglas Ogilvie
Douglas Ogilvie, agribusiness consultant, Savills

The inspector will ask to see your movement book and flock register, which will be taken away to check that all movements have been recorded correctly and cross reference with Scottish Animal Movement Unit/Animal Reporting and Movement Service/EIDCymru records.

Movement records must be completed within 48 hours of taking place and notified within three days. Sheep must be tagged at the earlier of nine months or leaving the holding.

If a sheep is missing a tag this must be replaced within 28 days and recorded in the flock register within 48 hours.

See also: Grants for farm meat processing conversion

The inspector will select 60 sheep for a tag inspection.

The sheep have to be recorded in the flock register and have matching double tags, one of which must be an EID tag.

If more than eight sheep are missing a tag or are not in the flock book, or there is just one sheep with non-identical tags, every sheep on the holding will have its tags checked.

For cattle the inspector will arrive with a British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) printout, which will be cross-checked with the stock present on the holding.

All cattle born on or after 1 January 1998 must have an authorised matching ear tag in each ear.

You must fit ear tags within 20 days of an animal’s birth, with the exception of dairy cattle, which must have at least one tag fitted within 36 hours of birth.

All cattle must have a passport issued by BCMS applied for within 27 days of the animal’s birth. Movements of cattle must be reported to BCMS within three days and deaths or missing animals within seven days.

Herd record books and movement notifications will also be checked.

The default sanction for a breach is a deduction of 3% in the BPS payment, including the greening element.

Where the inspector believes the breach to be intentional, payments can be increased to 20% and up to 100%.

Historic RPA statistics show 50% of cross-compliance breaches related to livestock records. In Scotland the figure is 80%.

There are slightly different rules for England/Scotland/Wales and Northern Ireland and guidance should be sought to make sure no breaches occur.

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