FARMERS HAVE little to fear from the new SP5 form for claiming the single farm payment, say the first consultants to see the document.

But they must not underestimate the importance of the form, which will replace IACS forms, said Savills‘ Simon Gardner.

“We need to be absolutely clear that 2005 is the only chance to register land for the SFP.”

He added it is important that people read the “huge” number of guidance notes before getting stuck in, especially on cross-compliance.

“Some of the questions apply to individual council regulations and by signing the form you are saying you understand everything.”

Jonathan Armitage of Strutt & Parker said the form was vital because it fulfilled so many roles.

“It establishes your entitlement, it identifies land you farm that will be subject to cross-compliance, it is your claim for SFP in 2005, it covers national reserve applications and private contract clause transfers, as well as fruit, vegetable and potato authorisations,” he said.

Both consultants said it was advisable to prepare the forms in advance because they would only start arriving at the end of March, leaving little time before the May 16 deadline. 

Farmers could start by collecting documentary evidence to back up national reserve claims and sorting out any landlord/tenant issues, they added.

DEFRA is expected to start circulating sample forms to farmers soon.