Now that farmers and agents are receiving pre-populated BP5 application forms, what are the key elements to completing 2015 BPS claims? We asked Alice de Soer from the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers.
When will I receive an email with my pre-populated BP5 application form?
Pre-populated BP5 application forms started to be emailed earlier this week. Any farmer who claimed SPS 2013 and/or 2014 who has at least 5ha of eligible land should receive one automatically.
The email should come from email@example.com. If you have given an agent “submit” permission on the Rural Payments system, the form should be emailed to him.
I have received an ‘apply now’ email, what do I need to do?
You are one of the 39,000 or so farmers that the RPA thinks may potentially have no changes on your BPS 2015 claim and do not need to do greening.
If you have less than 10ha of eligible land, so you don’t have to do crop diversification, no land uses need to be completed in column C7.
If there are no changes to make to the pre-populated BP5 and you automatically qualify as an “active farmer”, you can click on “apply now”.
Carefully check there aren’t any changes needed to your BP5 form. If you have any new BPS ineligible features to map, other land changes to make or entitlements have been transferred in or out, all these types of changes mean you should not click on “apply now”.
Instead print the BP5 form, make any necessary amendments and either post or hand deliver it to the RPA by midnight on 15 June 2015.
My pre-populated BP5 email doesn’t have ‘apply now’. What do I do?
You need to print your BP5 form, make any necessary amendments and either post it to the RPA at their new PO Box address (Rural Payments Agency, PO Box 352, Worksop, S80 9FG) or hand deliver it to one of the RPA Support Centres by midnight on 15 June 2015.
What do I need to use the online Rural Payments system for?
You must still register for the Rural Payments system. If you don’t, you won’t be able to claim.
You can also check your business and personal details online and give permission for someone else to act on your behalf to submit your BPS claim, make changes to your land and transfer entitlements.
What land should I include in the Field Data Sheets (Part C)?
Include all your agricultural and non-agricultural land that is in a Rural Development Programme (RDP) agreement – for example, a woodland scheme – even if it isn’t being used to claim BPS.
If there is a non-agricultural field that isn’t in an RDP agreement, you don’t need to include it. Land has to be “at your disposal” on 15 May 2015 for you to be able to use it to claim.
This is a different date to all of the other BPS 2015 deadlines which have been extended to 15 June.
How do I add/delete fields?
To add a new field that is already mapped on the Rural Land Register, you can include that at Part C. No RLE1 form or sketch map is needed. If it is not already on the Rural Land Register, you must complete an RLE1 form. To delete fields that you no longer farm, use the “delete” column.
What is the maximum area eligible for BPS?
This is the total agricultural area minus any BPS ineligible features and is shown in Column C4 on the Field Data Sheets (Part C). However, the pre-populated details usually show the maximum eligible area with SPS permanent ineligible features deducted, not BPS ineligible features.
There have been changes to the eligibility rules under BPS compared with SPS, so you may need to alter the area shown.
Deduct all BPS permanent and temporary ineligible features in column C4. Do not simply reduce the claimed area at C8 to take account of temporary ineligible features, such as an area being used to store machinery, as you may have done under SPS.
The RPA will use the area in column C4 to calculate whether you hold more entitlements than eligible land declared (the 2015 excess of entitlements rule) and what your crop diversification and EFA requirements may be.
When do I need to complete an RLE1 form for ineligible features?
If there is a new BPS permanent ineligible feature that you need to deduct from column C4, complete an RLE1 form and sketch map (which must be submitted by 15 June 2015).
If the ineligible feature is only temporary, the RPA does not need an RLE1 form or sketch map, but you must deduct it from the area shown in column C4 so you have the correct maximum area eligible for BPS.
How do I split a field?
If it is a temporary split because there are different crops, complete columns C5 and C6 and, as with SPS, use suffixes (a, b, c and so on) and part field sizes.
If you are permanently splitting or merging a field, because there is a new permanent field boundary or you have removed one, complete an RLE1 form and sketch map and send that to the RPA by 15 June 2015.
How do I tell the RPA about my crop diversification?
Complete Column C7 on the Field Data Sheets to tell the RPA about the land use in your fields. The RPA has published a list of land use codes. These are different to those you may have used under SPS.
The land use for the field should usually be as at 15 May 2015. The RPA will use the areas and land uses you have entered to see if crop diversification has been met.
How should I include buffer strips on my Field Data Sheets (Part C)?
Only separately identify buffer strips you are using for EFAs. A sketch map is not needed to identify them.
If you have field margins or buffer strips that are not being used for EFAs, you can either include those with the main land use for the field, or separately identify them if you want to use them for crop diversification or towards a greening exemption.
How do I tell the RPA about trees/woodland?
There isn’t a land use code for trees/woodland. The new eligibility rules under BPS for land with trees on it mean that if the trees are “scattered” and you can still farm the underlying land (or keep it in a state suitable to be able to farm it) then you need to enter the land use for that area beneath the trees – so if it is permanent grassland, use PG01.
If the area of trees/woodland is not eligible for BPS but is in an RDP agreement, it should be included in Part C using land use code RD02. If the area is eligible for BPS because it was used to claim SPS in 2008 and is still in an RDP agreement, use RD01.
If the area is not eligible and is not in an RDP agreement, it should be excluded.
How do I tell the RPA about my EFAs?
You need to use Part D of the BP5 form to tell the RPA about your ecological focus areas. Only include fields that contain EFAs. The physical lengths and areas should be given in most cases. You do not need to complete an RLE1 form or sketch maps for your EFAs.
I am using hedges as EFAs, how do I include those?
If you manage the whole hedge, both sides need to be identified to ensure you get the full benefit for EFA calculation purposes.
Where you occupy arable fields on either side of the hedge, enter each of those fields on a separate line in Part D, giving the length of each side of the hedge in D5.
If, however, one side of the hedge is a permanent grassland field, it is a road or the hedge juts into the field, you are unable to enter a separate field parcel for each side of the hedge.
You therefore need to give details of the arable field and enter the length of the hedge twice on the same line (columns D5 and D6), so the RPA can give you the benefit of both sides of the hedge for EFA.
How do I tell the RPA that I am an ‘active farmer’?
You must be an active farmer to claim BPS and transfer in entitlements. You need to tell the RPA if you are automatically an active farmer at Part F on the BP5 form.
To automatically qualify you must not be operating one of the negative list non-agricultural business activities or, if you are, you need to have claimed €5,000 (£3,600) SPS 2014 payment (before reductions/penalties) or less, which means the negative list does not apply.
If you don’t automatically qualify, you need to use one of the three available requalification routes. If you are using one of the two income routes, your accountant needs to complete the Active Farmer Certificate.
I am a Young Farmer, can I apply to the national reserve?
If you are at least 18 and no more than 40 years old by 31 December 2015 and you took control of the business in the previous five years, you may qualify as a young farmer.
This means you can apply for new entitlements from the national reserve and the Young Farmer Top-up on the BP5 form (Parts G and H). Your accountant or solicitor should complete the Young Farmer/New Farmer Certificate.
That can be printed now and must be returned by 15 June 2015. New farmers can also apply to the national reserve and need to submit the completed certificate.
Why is there an Entitlements section in my BP5 application form?
The BP5 form entitlements section (Part I) needs to show the entitlements you hold on 15 June 2015. You may need to amend the figures shown if you have transferred in or out entitlements since 21 October 2014 deadline.
You must update this section as it is part of your application.
What is the new deadline for transferring entitlements?
Following the extension of the transfer deadline, the RPA needs to receive your completed RLE1 form by midnight on 15 June 2015 for entitlements to be transferred in time for BPS 2015 claims.
The person receiving the entitlements must complete the “active farmer” declaration (Part F) on their BP5 form.
Where can I find more guidance about completing my BPS claim?
The RPA has produced new guidance earlier this week, How to apply for the 2015 Basic Payment Scheme in England. Read this alongside The Basic Payment Scheme in England 2015 handbook.
Updated RLE1 guidance for entitlements transfers and land changes should be available soon.