NFU’s senior BPS adviser Richard Wordsworth discusses issues farmers should be aware of at this time of the year, for BPS payments relating to 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
As attentions start to focus on the timeliness of 2017 BPS payments due to be made from 1 December, Richard sets out some further issues you should also be aware of.
What will my 2017 payment amount to?
The RPA recently confirmed the euro exchange rate it will use to base sterling BPS 2017 payments on as €1 = £0.89470. This compares favourably to the rate set last year, a gross increase of 4.98%.
At this time you cannot accurately work out your 2017 BPS payment using this rate and the 2016 BPS euro entitlement values as there are a number of other factors that impact on the final payment.
For example the RPA will need to know how many entitlements they need to spread the BPS fund pot over.
With an increase in commons entitlements this year, this could dampen down the increase in the payment values issued.
As you may have picked up, we have put out a member briefing giving more detail, this can be found here.
Be prepared for RPA contact
As the RPA continues to process 2017 claims, it may need to get in contact with you about a range of things, for example: claims on common land, active farmer status, young farmer payments or organic land greening exemption.
It goes without saying that it is important to respond promptly to such requests, but at the same time if you do not fully appreciate what is being asked of you or what the implications of such enquiries are then please call NFU CallFirst on 0370 845 8458.
Outstanding 2015 and 2016 payment issues
As I have said, a lot of focus after another challenging farming year is on the payments due in seven weeks’ time, but be assured the NFU is continuing to put pressure on the RPA and others to ensure that the long running and frustrating saga of previous year payments comes to an end as quickly as possible.
The last thing that we want to see are issues impacting on the third BPS year.
If you have not already done so, please complete the RPA’s payment query form to help ensure your concerns are logged correctly.
While it is clear that these forms, which were first made available in February, have not been looked at to date, that should not be a reason for not completing one.
Further Commons Retrospective Payments
Following on from my last blog, where I updated you on these payments, hopefully in the coming weeks the RPA will start to issue the adjusted payments and confirmation of adjusted entitlements for the BPS years 2015 and 2016.
This should hopefully allow commoners to be paid on the right basis for 2017.
Looking towards 2018
In addition to getting your head around the greening changes for 2018, at this time of the year a significant amount of land changes hands.
There are a number of things that should be considered if you have given up or taken on land.
One key point to appreciate is around who is liable to comply with the current calendar year scheme rules.
Many do not appreciate, for example, that when land changes hands, the incoming occupier needs to respect the undertakings of their predecessor.
This includes that the land claimed on needs to stay eligible for BPS for the rest of the year; that certain greening options that were declared in the spring and required to stay present until the end of 2017 do remain in situ.
If you have taken on land and are expecting to receive entitlements from the previous occupier then there may be a delay in receiving them.
The reason for this is the transferor is likely to prefer transferring them to you via the RPA’s online Rural Payment service which is unlikely to be up and running until February 2018.