With just over four weeks until BPS claims in England must be received by the RPA, Alice De Soer of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV) gives some key reminders about completing this year’s claims.
What if I haven’t received a BP5 form yet?
The RPA has sent out all BP5 forms. If you haven’t received one, contact the RPA urgently for a pre-populated paper form. New entrants need to register with the RPA and fill in a blank BP5 form.
What are the important dates?
15 June The RPA must receive your BP5 form and any necessary supporting documentation (active farmer certificate, new and young farmer certificate) by midnight on Monday 15 June. This is also the deadline for the RPA to receive RLE1 forms to transfer entitlements and make changes to land (for example, permanent field boundaries and registering land for the first time).
15 May Eligible land must be “at your disposal” on this date – you should be the owner-occupier or tenant.
See also: 10 steps to a successful BPS claim
Do I need to register for the online Rural Payments system?
Yes, you must still register if you haven’t already.
How do I transfer entitlements?
To transfer entitlements for someone else to claim for BPS 2015, you must complete an RLE1 form and the RPA must receive it by 15 June. The farmer receiving the entitlements must be an active farmer and fill in part F of the BP5 form. If you are transferring land with entitlements, you should use a separate RLE1 form for each element.
Do I need to submit sketch maps to show my crop diversification and ecological focus area (EFA)?
No. You only need to submit a sketch map if you are completing an RLE1 form for land changes.
I have some new ineligible features, do I need to alter column C4 in part C of my BP5 application form?
Yes. Unlike previous years where you may have deducted ineligible features from the area you were claiming (column C8), all ineligible features must now be deducted in column C4 (Maximum BPS eligible area). This is because C4 is used to calculate greening and whether you have more land than entitlements. So, if you have any permanent ineligible features that haven’t been mapped on the Rural Land Register (RLR) or temporary ineligible features, make sure you reduce the area shown in column C4 to account for these.
I have some land that has been temporarily taken for utility/transport works, what do I do?
You need to identify this land as a temporary ineligible feature and deduct it from column C4 on your BP5 form (part C). This may mean you are declaring less eligible land in 2015 than the number of entitlements you have. This means you will lose any extra entitlements that can’t be matched against eligible land. You also won’t receive a payment for that land in 2015. If you already know that the land will be taken for utility/transport works, you cannot use the force majeure provisions to avoid losing entitlements. You will need to agree compensation with the organisation that is undertaking the works on your land.
I have some agri-environment options on my land, should I count it as permanent grassland or “arable” land?
For land that is in an agri-environment option that requires the land to be taken out of production, but where it may have been grass for five years or more, it would usually mean the land should be permanent grassland. However, if it is in one of the options that were listed in the SPS 2013 Handbook (the main ones for ELS being: EC1 and 24; EE1, 2, 3, 8 and 9; EF1, 4, 5 and 7, EG3, EJ5 and 9 and all the HLS and Organic versions of these, as well as HE10 and HC5) then that land is still viewed as temporary grassland (“arable”) while it is in that option. Arable reversion is not treated the same, so grass leys of five years or more are permanent grassland.
My BPS claim includes some common land. How should I complete my BP5 application form?
In most cases, common land will have been pre-populated in part C (Field Data Sheet) as field parcels, but nothing is shown in the common land part of the form (part E). You need to delete all of the common land field parcels from part C. You should then enter your common land rights in part E. The RPA has changed the calculation of your notional area of the common land, so check the guidance booklet.
I’m not sure if I automatically qualify as an active farmer – what should I do?
Part F of the BP5 form is where you must tell the RPA if you are an active farmer. You should automatically qualify if you don’t operate one of the negative list activities. If you do, you can still automatically qualify if you received no more than €5,000 (£3,886.50) SPS 2014 payment. However, if you received a larger payment and do operate a negative list activity, you need to requalify.
You can requalify if you have at least 36ha of eligible land. If you are using one of two other available income requalification routes you must ask your accountant to complete an active farmer certificate. That must be returned to the RPA by 15 June.
How can I submit my BP5 application form?
If you received an “apply now” email and have no changes to make, click on “apply now” and submit your claim electronically. If you do have changes, print off the BP5 form. Then post it to the Rural Payments Agency, PO Box 352, Worksop, S80 9FG or deliver it to one of the 50 RPA support centres. Make sure you have a dated receipt and that you have kept a copy of your form and supporting documentation.