Farmers growing fruit, vegetables or potatoes (FVPs) have even more to worry about in terms of entitlement trading, says Edward Blundy of East Anglian consultant Brown & Co.

That is because only “authorised” entitlements can be used to claim SFP on land used to grow FVPs. But the Rural Payments Agency has said the number of authorised entitlements growers will receive will be based on the area under FVP crops during 2003, meaning anybody who has expanded production since then may have too few entitlements, unless they have made a successful national reserve application.

People who have stopped growing FVPs, however, can still use their authorised entitlements to grow normal combinable crops.
“Growers with too few authorisations will have to decide whether to grow and not claim SFP on the extra area or try and buy in enough to make up the difference,” says Mr Blundy.

“The problem at the moment is that we have plenty of people looking to buy authorised entitlements, but because most people don’t know how many they are going to receive yet we don’t have enough sellers.

“March is already proving to be a rather busy month. Ensuring entitlements end up back in the right hands following their establishment last year is proving to be a bit of a nightmare.”

To make matters worse, FVP growers often rent many different blocks of land and a separate RLE1 form has to be filled in for each different land provider and sent back to the RPA by the 2 April deadline, says Mr Blundy “I have one client who rents from 19 different people, and he is by no means unique.

“The important message is that time is of the essence. Life is significantly clearer with an entitlement statement, so growers should deal with any outstanding queries quickly and request their RLE1 forms today.”

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