The application window for Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) has now opened with the deadline for the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to receive applications including supporting evidence being midnight on 15 May 2017. In 2017 as last year, farmers can apply for the BPS online via www.gov.uk/rural-payments, whilst those who completed a paper BP5 form for BPS in 2016 will receive a BPS 2017 application pack in the post. Information about the BPS in 2017 including the scheme rules and a guidance booklet on how to apply online can be found on www.gov.uk/rpa/bps2017.
A new option available online to applicants this year is the entitlement viewer. Applicants can see a detailed breakdown of entitlements for their business for BPS 2015 & 2016 and the current status for their entitlements for BPS 2017. This includes:
- Their entitlements balance – showing the number of entitlements an applicant had at the start of each scheme year and the number they’ve used or not used.
- Pending entitlement transfers, those waiting to be completed
- Entitlements which the applicant either is not eligible for or no longer needs which have been either reclaimed (claw back) or surrendered.
- The number of entitlements received from the National Reserve under new farmer or young farmer rules.
- Completed transfers – how many entitlements were transferred in or out of the business
- Details of any entitlements currently leased from or leased to another business.
Applicants can once again transfer entitlements and land via the online system or via a paper RLE1 form. One point to note is that although the person transferring the entitlement(s) does not have to be an active farmer, the person receiving the entitlement(s) must have completed the active farmer declaration before the transfer can take place.
When beginning to think about the BPS application process, it is a good idea to complete any entitlement(s) and land transfers you wish to take effect prior to starting to complete your application. If you complete these online, they should show up as completed on the online system within 24 hours. There are some exceptions that cannot be completed via the online system, these include splitting a field, changing a field boundary, adding or removing an ineligible feature as well as when you wish to add a new field parcel. In these circumstances a paper RLE1 is needed. A new field can also be added by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your SBI and the new field data, ensuring you note “Add Land” as the subject of the email. It is also worth noting that when transferring entitlements and land on paper they should be completed on separate RLE1 forms.
A summary of the key dates for BPS 2017
|Official start of the BPS 2017 scheme year
|1 January – 31 December
|Land used to claim BPS must be eligible all year
Ecological focus area (EFA) period for hedges and buffer strips
Cross compliance rules must be followed all year
|1 January to 30 June
|EFA period for EFA fallow land
|1 May – 30 June
|Crop diversification period and EFA period for nitrogen fixing crops
|15 May (midnight)
|BPS 2017 application deadline and deadline
for RPA to receive supporting evidence to avoid late claim penalty
Deadline for RPA to receive applications for young farmer payment
Deadline for RPA to receive applications for new entitlements from new or young farmers
Deadline for BPS 2017 entitlement transfer
Date at which land used to claim BPS in 2017 has to be ‘at your disposal’
|31 May (midnight)
|Deadline to make certain changes to an application submitted by 15 May without penalty
|9 June (midnight)
|Deadline for late applications, or late amendments, with penalties
|EFA catch crops must be established by this date
|EFA catch crops must be retained until at least this date
EFA cover crops must be established by this date
|BPS 2017 payment window opens
|Official end of the BPS 2017 scheme year
|15 January 2018
|EFA cover crops must be retained until at least this date
|30 June 2018
|BPS 2017 payment window closes