The Minister of State, George Eustice, recently announced that the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will not carry out inspections in the flooded areas and will make use of any flexibility in cross compliance and animal movement rules for affected farmers.
The following support and guidance is now available:
- Farmers whose land has been flooded and are experiencing extreme hardship are advised to contact the agency on 03000 200 301 as soon as possible and report their circumstances, so that they can access targeted support.
- Farmers concerned about their eligibility for BPS payments and meeting cross compliance requirements are advised to check the BPS handbook, as flooded land should still be eligible if the flooding is temporary.
- If the impact of flooding could be regarded as permanent, farmers should apply for ‘force majeure’ within 15 working days of being in a position to do so.
- Farmers concerned about a breach of the cross compliance rules that is out of their control are advised to try and keep records that can then be produced if inspections take place at a later date.
- RPA will not carry out any inspections on farms directly affected by flooding until the situation eases.
- Flood affected livestock farmers who have been forced to move animals for welfare reasons are advised to update their farm records and report movements as soon as they are able. In circumstances like this they should inform RPA of any concerns, as soon as possible. Where these movements would breach the 6 day standstill period, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will licence these moves. Keepers should contact APHA on 03000 200 301
- Providing cattle keepers tell APHA they cannot complete their TB test due to flooding, no cross compliance action will be triggered.
Further guidance for flood affected farmers in the North of England has been released on GOV.UK
Farming Recovery Fund
The Farming Recovery Fund, announced recently by The Minister of State George Eustice, will help those who have been affected by flooding to restore damaged agricultural land.
Details on how to apply are expected to be on GOV.UK on 18 December, with applicants likely to have two months to apply. To help those affected who may want to apply, RPA has issued advice on steps they can take now to prepare:
- It is really important for farmers to document the extent of any damage with photographs.
- Essential work, such as securing the area for stock, can start but it’s important farmers take photos to show the damage they experienced. Any assessment of applications will need to ensure claims are eligible and provide good value for money.
Once the scheme has opened the RPA dedicated team will be able to take enquiries and advise farmers about requirements.
Following on from the opening of the BPS claim window on 1 December, RPA has continued to make BPS payments and as of 8 December had issued 36,083 payments – that’s 41.4% of eligible farmers. RPA remains on track to meet its commitment to pay more than half of eligible claimants in England by the end of December and vast majority by end of January.
Payments ranging from under £500 to £150k have been made to small, medium and large sized enterprises in all geographic areas of England and to all sectors of the industry. Payments include new elements introduced under the BPS 2015 scheme, including young farmer and greening.
Under the new Basic Payment Scheme rules, RPA has to carry out checks before paying. There are a number of checks RPA might need to make, but not all of them may apply to each farmer’s claim. These include:
- Cross-checking BPS applications against claims for other rural payment schemes
- Validating that greening rules have been met on a case by case basis
- Processing the results of an inspection both physical and remote
- Checking claims against the land data we hold