The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has now received 12,900 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications. But with just over four weeks to go until the June 15 deadline, farmers who have not yet submitted their claim are being urged to do so as soon as possible.
RPA has sent farmers, either by email or on paper, everything they need to make their claim ahead of the June 15 application deadline. Anyone who has not received their pre-populated form or maps should contact the Rural Payments helpline on 03000 200 301.
The Agency has this week contacted farmers who do not have an agent reminding them about the application process and where they can find help. This includes the small number who have yet to register on the Rural Payments system.
Guidance and help
All the guidance farmers need to apply for BPS in 2015 can be found at www.gov.uk/rpa/bps. This includes the Basic Payment Scheme handbook, how to apply guide and The Guide to Cross Compliance in England 2015.
Farmers who need help to complete their application, or who have a question about the scheme, should call the helpline on 03000 200 301. This is open seven days a week – Monday to Friday 7am to 6pm and between 8am and 4pm on weekends. The helpline is generally quieter between 11am and 2pm on weekdays and during weekend opening hours.
Drop-in centres and Mobile Support Units
Farmers who want to deliver their application by hand and get a receipt should visit one of 50 drop-in centres set-up across the country. Their locations and opening times can be found at www.gov.uk/rpa/bps or search for ‘find help to claim rural payments’.
The Agency also has 10 mobile support units which will be attending farming events across the country, including auction marts. Locations and events the mobile support units will be attending can be found at www.gov.uk/rpa/bps.
Important information on grass strips
The European Commission has clarified that arable land taken out of production under certain agri-environment scheme options retains its arable status rather than being treated as permanent grassland once it leaves the scheme. So, if land is in grass for 3 years and is then set aside under an agri-environment agreement for say 5 or 10 years, on completion of the agreement it will be treated as the fourth year of grassland (provided the land is still in grass). This means, in this example, the land would still be considered to be temporary grassland on completion of the agreement.
Detailed guidance will be available on 18 May 2015.
The most common topics farmers are asking the RPA about are submitting BP5 forms and greening.
Submitting your BP5 form
Forms can be posted or handed in at a drop in centre. Forms can be printed single or double sided. Blank pages do not need to be submitted but a covering note must be included specifying the pages that you are sending us.
We have published a useful workbook to help you with greening. Use this workbook for your own calculations and to satisfy yourself that you are meeting the rules. You don’t need to send it to the Rural Payments Agency as part of your BPS application.