As the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) looms in to site on 1st January 2015, changes are already afoot with farmers having to make sure this autumn’s planting of arable crops will be compliant with the new Greening measures.
However, another date is also looming that may be of significance for some, which is the deadline for transferring single payment entitlements. This is of importance for several reasons.
First, if one is wanting to transfer entitlements under the new scheme, there are likely to be delays before the transfer is confirmed which may cause unnecessary hassle when completing next year’s forms for the first time. Therefore getting the entitlements transferred under the old scheme will mean they are automatically transferred to BPS entitlements ready for immediate use next year which may make life easier.
Second, and perhaps of more importance for some, the person acquiring the entitlements under the new scheme rules will have to qualify as an “active farmer”, the precise meaning of which is still not entirely clear. This may be of significance for organisations such as wildlife trusts or landowners who may have purchased land but who do not necessarily farm in a traditional sense.
To avoid any concern regarding the interpretation of these new rules, individuals or organisations who think they may be affected by the active farmer test should seriously consider acquiring entitlements prior to the 21st October deadline.
This is not likely to affect very many people or organisations but it could catch some people out who have up until now have been able to make legitimate claims under the existing Single Payment Scheme but this may not be quite so straightforward under the new scheme. Also, farmers who may sell land to such people will have to ensure that the recipient of the entitlements is eligible to receive them otherwise this may upset some land transactions.
No doubt there will be ways of manoeuvring around these rules to achieve the desired result, whether that be through some form of contracting farming arrangement or the like, but if one is looking for a simple life, now may be the time to think about transferring entitlements so as not to get tied up in unnecessary complications or delays in receiving BPS entitlements next year.
James Stephen MRICS FAAV
Rural Practice Chartered Surveyor, Wells
T: 01749 683381