The Rural Payments Agency has produced a short video explaining how farmers and landowners can get their applications under way for the 2016 Basic Payment Scheme.
The agency announced on Monday (7 March) it had launched the first part of its Rural Payments service to allow farmers in England to begin the application process for the 2016 BPS scheme.
Claimants can check and change their personal and business details, including keeping email addresses accurate and up to date.
For BPS 2016, applicants will be able to view their maps online for the first time and the Rural Payments Service has built-in elements that help to check the application.
There are four stages to completing applications. From the first week of March until around the middle of the month, applicants will be able to check the information the RPA holds already and begin to make changes, including transferring land and entitlements.
From around mid-March onwards, applicants can complete their declarations and confirm the information in their application before final submission.
Wiltshire land agent WebbPaton says it has used the new online entitlement and transfer platform and is “impressed”.
“We have already had a play with the online system. I quite like it,” said farm consultant George Paton.
“It is a clean platform, which is well designed, clear and easy to follow for farmers.”
However, Mr Paton highlighted some quirks of the system he found unusual.
For example, when you press the button to transfer entitlements, there is no “sent confirmation” or email notification to confirm details have been transferred.
“You have to wait for a letter in the post to say it has been transferred,” he said.
Mr Paton said it was also unclear how quickly it would be to use the online system to set up entitlements to a new farmer or farmers who have started trading by themselves.
He advised claimants to complete forms early to avoid the inevitable “gold rush” towards the 2016 BPS application deadline of midnight on 16 May.
“Anyone who has taken land on needs to do fill their forms early,” he said.
“If they have got an agent filling it in, go and see them or their farm consultant early. If they don’t go early, the only option would be to take a paper form.”
Making entitlement or land changes early means information should be updated in time to show on BPS 2016 applications, available online from mid-March.
Farmers have taken to social media to point out the irony of the RPA launching its 2016 BPS campaign when some 16,000 claimants were still awaiting payment for this year’s scheme.
— John Charles-Jones (@woodboroughpark) March 7, 2016
Some have complained that they feel uncomfortable filling in details for BPS 2016 when they still don’t know if their claims were successful this year.