Farmers affected by the devastating flooding over the last couple of weeks have been offered guidance on ways to ensure their land would not be excluded from payment schemes going forward.
Defra told farmers that flooded land was still eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) – and may not affect land in a Countryside Stewardship (CS) or Environmental Stewardship (ES) scheme – but only if the flooding was temporary and the land would otherwise be available for agricultural activity.
A statement said: “You should return the land to agricultural use as soon as practically possible, and continue to meet the scheme rules or requirements of agreement options on the affected land parcels.”
Where farmers cannot manage their agreement according to CS or ES requirements, a minor and temporary adjustment can be requested.
And where the impact of flooding is more serious and permanent, farmers may request force majeure.
Force majeure is where farmers are not able to meet scheme requirements or agreement obligations due to exceptional and unforeseeable circumstances.
Defra said: “For BPS, the impact could be regarded as more serious and permanent if the land can no longer be considered as ‘eligible’ for BPS and no longer meets the land eligibility criteria.
“For ES and CS, the impact may result in a permanent change to the agreement land and/or land features meaning that you can no longer manage the land according to the requirements of the options in your agreement.”
To request force majeure, farmers must email or write to the department with the subject title ‘Flooding 2019’, as well as their SBI and agreement numbers.
Affected persons must contact Defra within 15 days of ‘being in a position to do so’, meaning within 15 working days of the time it was realised that regulatory obligations could not be met.
On cross compliance, farm records should be updated with births, movements and deaths ‘as soon as possible’.
If animals have been moved to a safe location away from their holding due to flooding, BCMS should be contacted for a retrospective movement licence, before requesting another movement licence after the flooding has subsided and animals are moved back to the holding they came from.
On TB testing, Defra added: “You should tell APHA that you have not or cannot complete your TB test due to flooding. No cross compliance action will be taken.”
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