Basic Payment Scheme advice for cross-border farmers

Defra has issued guidance for farmers wanting to claim under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), but have land that straddles more than one part of the UK.

The rules for the BPS are different in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which means farmers have to submit an application to each part of the UK where they have land.

This is even if they are not intending to claim BPS in one part of the UK.

However, producers will only receive one payment for all the land they have claimed.

See also: 10 steps to a successful BPS claim

For some elements of the scheme, such as land eligibility, farmers will need to meet the rules set by the part of the UK where the relevant land is located.

But for others, such as minimum claim size, the deciding factor will be where most of the land on their holding is located.

What else do you need to know?

Pick a paying agency

Farmers will be paid by the agency in the part of the UK where most of the land they hold is located.

However, if a farmer’s most recent single farm payment/Single Payment Scheme payment was made by a different agency they can choose for their 2015 BPS money to come from that same agency.

If farmers wish to nominate a different paying agency they must contact their preferred choice by 9 June. In England and Wales this can be done on the BPS application, but in Northern Ireland and Scotland it must be done by phone or email.

Active farmers

There are two parts to the active farmer test – the first relates to business activity and the second part, which only applies in Wales and Scotland, is about “land naturally kept in a state suitable for grazing or cultivation”.

Claimants will need to meet the active farmer rules in the part of the UK where most of their land is, but in working out if they do, they may need to take into account their activities elsewhere in the UK.

For example, a farmer with most of their land in Scotland, but some in England, must check that they are not operating certain non-agricultural activities listed in the BPS guidance for Scotland.

If they are operating any of these business activities anywhere in the UK they must meet the “re-admission” criteria that apply in Scotland.

Similarly, farmers with “naturally kept” land in Scotland or Wales won’t be able to apply for BPS anywhere in the UK if their naturally kept land is more than 50% off the agricultural land on their entire UK holding and they don’t carry out the minimum activity set out under Wales/Scotland’s guidance notes.

National Reserve

Each part of the UK will have its own national reserve, which will be open to new and young farmers to apply for BPS entitlements.

Eligible farmers will have to apply for entitlements to each of the paying agencies where they have eligible land and wish to be allocated entitlements.

However, under the young farmer scheme, claimants can only receive the top up payment on a maximum of 90ha of eligible land.

Minimum claim sizes

There are different minimum claim sizes in each part of the UK, which range from 3-5ha.

Producers must meet the minimum claim size in the part of the holding where most of their land is based.

For example, if a farmer has 3ha of eligible land in England and 2ha in Wales then most of the land on the farmer’s holding is in England where the minimum claim size is 5ha.

In this instance the claim will be accepted as they have a total eligible land area of 5ha.

If a claimant has 2ha in England and 1ha in Scotland then their claim will not be accepted as they only have 3ha of eligible land and the minimum claim size in England, where most of the holding is located, is 5ha.

Greening rules

Farmers will need to meet greening rules – including crop diversification and ecological focus areas (EFA) – at a holding level and not separately for land in each part of the UK. This means that a farmer will not have to have 5% EFA in each region – they only need to meet 5% across their holding as a whole.

That said, a farmer must meet the EFA rules that apply in the part of the UK, where the land being used as an EFA is located.

For example, if a farmer has land in both England and Wales they can chose to use a catch crop on their English land, but can’t use a catch crop on their Welsh ground because it does not count as an EFA in Wales.

Payment reductions

If a total BSP claim exceeds €150,000 (£109,900), excluding greening and young farmer payments, the amount over €150,000 will be reduced.By how much will depend on the proportion of the value of entitlements used in each part of the UK and the reduction rate that applies in that region.

For further detail about cross-border claims see Defra’s guidance for farmers with land in more than part of the UK (PDF).

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