Arable landscape from above © FLPA / Roger Tidman/REX/Shutterstock© FLPA / Roger Tidman/REX/Shutterstock

Farmers are being urged to complete basic payment scheme applications as soon as possible – with little more than a week before the 16 May deadline.

In England, the Rural Payments Agency says farmers should complete applications, even if they are waiting for the balance of their 2015 payment or still have an outstanding query on 2015.

All 2016 claims will be automatically updated with any verified changes in 2015 claims, it says.

See also: Defra has ‘no plans’ for BPS deadline extension

For paper claims, 9 May is last day to ask the RPA for a paper form to make sure it is received by 12 May, giving applicants time to complete and submit it by 16 May.

Farmers will be able to make changes to claims submitted before 16 May – right up to 31 May without incurring any penalties.

In Scotland, farm leaders have asked that the Scottish Government extend the application window to submit their 2016 Single Application Forms (SAF) beyond 16 May.

NFU Scotland said many applicants were unable to submit their 2016 claim as they had yet to receive the necessary updated maps for their business from Scottish Government.

The decision to formally request an extension was due to be discussed with Scottish Government officials on Friday (6 May).

In Wales, the Single Application Form is only available by accessing Rural Payments Wales (RPW) online – no paper forms are available in 2016.

Completion of the form ensures access to farm support under the new Basic Payment Scheme as well as land-based rural development payments.

NFU Cymru president Stephen James, said: “With only a short amount of time to go until the deadline, farmers should ensure that the completion of the forms is top priority.

“The Single Farm Payment and a number of rural development schemes cannot be secured without submitting a Single Application Form so this is one of the most crucial forms farmers will complete.”

Once the SAF form has been submitted a formal acknowledgement will be sent out electronically.

NFU Cymru is advising farmers to check this through thoroughly to ensure that the form is correctly completed.