‘Strangely quiet’ as BPS 2016 deadline draws to a close

UK farmers outside Scotland have until midnight to submit their 2016 Basic Payment applications without penalty – including any continuation sheets and all supporting evidence.

The deadline for applications from farmers in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland expires at midnight on Monday (16 May).

But the deadline has been extended by an extra month in Scotland, giving farmers north of the border until 15 June to make their claim.

See also: MPs slam ‘unacceptable’ delays by RPA

In England, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) helpline and online support centres remained open over the weekend to help farmers complete and submit applications.

It is also the deadline for Entry-Level, Higher Level and Countryside Stewardship applications, which can also be dropped off at RPA support centres.

All support centres in England will remain open until midnight on Monday – with more than 75% of farmers having BPS claims already submitted or in progress.

The RPA said it had been working hard to ensure everyone was supported in submitting their 2016 application before the deadline.

Applications should be completed and submitted by midnight 16 May, said the RPA, even if farmers had an outstanding query or were waiting for the balance of their 2015 payment.

Some drop-in centres are less busy than anticipated. NFU adviser Clare Greener ‏said it was “strangely quiet” at the RPA drop-in centre in Hereford.

“Can it be that Herefordshire farmers are so organised all BPS claims have been submitted?” she said on Twitter.

Efficient and helpful

Sarah Reece, a rural surveyor with Berrys, said she took a “large pile” of BPS applications and documents to the RPA at Crewe on Sunday (15 May).

“The staff there were very efficient and helpful,” she said.

But for many farmers, submitting the claim is just the start of what could be a long process before they receive their 2016 support.

Farmers and their agents can make some amendments to applications until 31 May without penalty – although doing so is often easier said than done.

Having completed and submitted his application last week, Nottinghamshire farmer John Charles is already busy putting pen to paper.

“Now to write the long letter with corrections that one cannot make online,” he said.

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