The deadline to submit 2017 BPS applications is just one week away and farmers are being urged to complete their forms without delay to avoid a penalty.
The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) published a 19-page document, entitled BPS 2017: Hints and tips on making your application, to help farmers who have yet to submit their claims.
The document has taken the questions farmers and agents have been asking as they apply for their BPS, and includes practical answers on some of the most frequently asked questions.
It highlights advice on how to transfer entitlements, how to check maps and change and check your land correctly, and how to check if your application has been submitted successfully.
The document also clarifies Basic Payment Scheme rules on ecological focus areas (EFAs), common land and young farmer payments.
Applications must be submitted by midnight on Monday 15 May to avoid late claim penalties.
Amendments to BPS applications, including the addition of land parcels, may be made up to 31 May without penalty, or 9 June with penalty, providing you have not been notified of an inspection.
2017 BPS Deadlines. Midnight 15 May for BPS applications and midnight 31 May to make certain changes. Late application deadline 9 June.
— FCG (@farmconsultancy) May 7, 2017
NFU vice-president Guy Smith said: “The message from the NFU to farmers is to knuckle down and get their forms in, if you haven’t already done so.
“Please bear in mind that some people are finding it a bit more difficult. Everything needs double checking.
“We are finding that some people are being caught out by changes to mapping that they were not aware of. If you are really struggling, even if you get a part-completed form in by Monday, you would still have a fortnight to make changes.”
According to the RPA, latest figures show 44,000 people, more than half of eligible applicants in England, have applied for their 2017 BPS. The agency is expecting a late surge in applications this week.
Drop-in centres in Carlisle, Exeter, Newcastle, Reading, Workington and York will be open every day from 8.30am until 5pm (including Saturday and Sunday 13-14 May), and extended up until midnight on 15 May, to accept fully completed forms.
NFU Cymru rallying call
Meanwhile, NFU Cymru is urging farmers in Wales to complete and submit their Single Application Forms (SAF) ahead of the 15 May deadline.
NFU Cymru president Stephen James said: “With only a week before the deadline, I encourage all members to complete the form without delay.
“Those not completing the SAF form by the required deadline will not be able to access funding through the Basic Payment Scheme and a number of Rural Development schemes.”
If you have any questions about your Single Application Form, please contact the RPW Customer Contact Centre on 0300 062 5004.