Coronavirus (COVID-19): information for farmers, landowners and rural businesses
The latest information for farmers, landowners and rural businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Read this page for regular updates.
We want to assure customers that we’re continuing to deliver the range of services to agricultural and rural communities across the country while the majority of our people work from home.
We’re aware that lockdown restrictions are easing and we’re making adjustments to our services. We will publish further updates as necessary, including any contingency arrangements we may need to make to support you.
Check this page regularly for updates on the contingency arrangements we’re making to support our customers.
Mid Tier application pack deadline extended
The deadline to request a Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier application pack online using the Rural Payments service has been extended from 30 June to 16 July.
Bank helpline opening hours
We’re committed to maintain vital services for our customers. However, to safeguard our people during these exceptional times, we’ve had to reduce the bank helpline opening hours.
The Bank helpline is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9am and 2pm.
We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and ask that you please bear with us during this time.
We will keep reviewing the situation and publish further updates when available.
Staying safe outside your home - follow these principles to ensure that time spent outside your home is as safe as possible.
Construction and other outdoor work - guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments.
Vehicles – guidance for people who work in or from vehicles.
Factories, plants and warehouses – guidance for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses.
What you need to do
We’re committed to maintaining vital services for our customers, and have made changes to adapt to the current emergency situation.
In line with government COVID-19 guidance, the majority of our offices remain closed while our processing and helpline teams carry on their important work from home. We are all fully focused on making vital payments to the rural community and helping customers submit their claims and applications.
To make sure you follow the government advice on social distancing, please do not visit or hand in any correspondence or supporting documents to any of our local offices.
You can continue to post correspondence or supporting documents but only to those offices listed below.
To make sure your documents get to us follow the advice below. We will continue to keep you up to date with any changes.
Support for the farming community
We work in partnership with Farming Help organisations to support their work to help the farming community through challenging times. If this affects you, please either contact them on 03000 111 999, visit their Farming Help website or call us on 03000 200 301.
Farm visits and inspections
Following government guidance, our inspectors will continue with most inspection work to ensure that we meet our regulatory targets and do not cause any delay to payments.
They will continue to follow our strict COVID-19 secure health and safety procedures (including social distancing and other approaches to reduce face to face contact) that we put in place last year and will carry out risk assessments before each inspection.
We will contact customers before a visit to explain the arrangements and to find out if there are any issues we need to be aware of, including vulnerability.
Further advice and guidance is also available from Natural England and the Forestry Commission.
How to submit your applications, claims, evidence and other supporting documents
See at a glance the different ways to submit applications, claims and documents to us.
The Rural Payments service is available and you should use this wherever possible.
It’s the quickest and most secure way for you to send your applications, claims and supporting documents to us, and it will help us to start processing your application or claim as quickly as possible.
Where there is no option to use the Rural Payments service or you are unable to access the online service, you currently have 2 options.
Option 1: use email
You can email us at email@example.com where the guidance confirms there is an existing email service. We recommend you use this.
When you email us make sure you include the name of the scheme in the subject heading, for example ‘Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier query’. This will help your email get to the right department quickly.
Read more information about emailing documents to RPA.
Remember, we can only accept emails from email addresses that are registered in the Rural Payments service.
It’s important (especially in these challenging times) that we have your most up-to-date personal and business contact details. We may contact you by email or telephone, so check your details in the Rural Payments service, and update them or register if necessary.
Also, please make sure your permission levels for the scheme are set and are correct. You can find more information about how to do this in our blog.
It’s a good idea to regularly check your spam or junk email folder so you don’t miss important emails that we’ve sent to you. And, read our Be aware of fraud section as we are aware of coronavirus (COVID-19) related scams.
Option 2: use post
If there’s no existing email service and you would normally post something to us, you should continue to use the post.
However, we understand that the Royal Mail has indicated that it’s likely some areas of the country may experience some level of disruption due to coronavirus(COVID-19) related absences at local mail centres or delivery offices. If you need to post documents to us, we would encourage you to do so as soon as you can.
If you’re unable to get online or post a paper application form, paper claim form, or supporting documents to us before the application or claim deadlines, please call our helpline on 03000 200 301.
Where the person with the correct permissions is not able to sign any forms, due to coronavirus (COVID-19) related issues, this can be done by someone else and a note advising us of this is clearly shown either on the front of the document or next to the signature box. We will verify the signature before making any payments to you.
We recommend that changes to permission levels are done before applications and claims close, where possible. In exceptional circumstances, if the signatory does not hold the correct permission level at the time they submit an application or claim, we will allow them to arrange this afterwards. This should be done as soon as possible to avoid a delay to payments.
Please do not bring any documents to our offices (even if they are listed as accepting postal deliveries). We’re unable to accept correspondence or documents in person.
If you need to to transfer BPS entitlements to someone else, transfer land to someone else, and remove land from your holding to us, you can now do this electronically, by email, to tell us about entitlement transfers, land transfers and land changes.
You can download an RLE1 form, complete it electronically following the RLE1 guidance, and return it to us as a PDF email attachment.
If you are unable to get online or email it to us, you can print an RLE1 form, complete it by hand, and post it to us.
We understand that organic certification bodies are making arrangements to issue certification and conversion documents where they are unable to make site visits.
We will accept all such documents in whatever format the organic body issues them in, where it’s necessary to support CS applications, and CS and ES claims.
Please email a copy of any certificates to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re unable to get online, you can post a copy to us.
Updates on rural payments, grants and services
Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)
BPS closed for 2021 applications on 11 June 2021.
Applications received after 11 June 2021 will be rejected (apart from cases accepted as force majeure and exceptional circumstances).
Environmental Stewardship (ES) annual claims
The deadline for submitting 2021 ES annual claims was 11 June 2021.
Claims received after 11 June 2021 will be rejected (apart from cases accepted as force majeure and exceptional circumstances).
Countryside Stewardship Higher-Tier applications
Higher Tier 2021 applications have now closed.
Countryside Stewardship Mid-Tier applications
The deadline for requesting an application pack online using the Rural Payments service is 30 June 2021 - this has been extended to 16 July 2021.
Applications close at midnight on 30 July 2021.
Farm advice support for CS Mid-Tier applicants - during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, an off-farm advice programme is available where applicants can contact an adviser and book a clinic session.
Countryside Stewardship Capital Grants applications
Capital Grants closed for 2021 applications on 30 April 2021.
Woodland support grants
The following grants are open for applications all year.
Countryside Stewardship (CS) annual revenue claims
CS 2021 annual revenue claims are now closed.
Countryside Stewardship capital claims
You can submit a capital claim at any time of year. However, this must be:
- within 3 months of the end of your agreement
- after the capital work is finished
- after you have paid for it and the money has left your back account
You can claim online using the Rural Payments service.
If you are unable to claim online, call us on 03000 200 301 to request a Countryside Stewardship capital claim form.
If you have problems collecting all the evidence for your capital claim due to coronavirus (COVID-19) illness or restrictions, please do all you can to submit your claim, making it clear that your evidence is missing due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Please continue to collect the evidence as soon as you are able to do so, and keep hold of it as we’ll ask for it at a later date.
Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) - Growth Programme
Read Questions and Answers on coronavirus (COVID-19) Response for the most common questions about arrangements for delivering existing RDPE Growth programme projects and for applications under the Round 3 call.
British Cattle Movement Service: requesting cattle passport amendments
Following the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak we temporarily asked you to request cattle passport amendments by email.
If possible, and restrictions allow, please now return to the original process for requesting cattle passport amendments
However, we can still accept these by email if you are unable to post them.
Who we will contact
We want to reach as many customers as possible during these challenging times. Therefore, we are sending reminders to more of our BPS and CS contacts we hold in the Rural Payment service who have ‘submit’ or ‘full’ permissions.
- Customers or their agents must hold ‘submit’ and ‘full’ business permissions
- An agent with ‘full’ business or ‘submit’ permissions supersedes a customer with ‘full’ or ‘submit’ business permissions
- If multiple agents have ‘submit’ or ‘full’ permissions, the agent with ‘full’ business permission supersedes those with ‘submit’
- If multiple agents have ‘full business’ permissions, they all receive any communications
- If there is no agent with ‘full’ business permission, but there are multiple agents with ‘submit’ permissions, they will all receive any communications
- All agents must have an email address registered in the Rural Payments service
- If no agents fit the above criteria, the same criteria will be used against the remaining people with permissions.
You need to be certain that any correspondence or contact you receive from us is genuine as there are coronavirus (COVID-19) related scams from people claiming to be from other government departments. Please read the Be aware of fraud section below, which will help you to protect yourself.
Where there is no email option available, use the following addresses for anything urgent
Countryside Stewardship customers
Rural Payments Agency
PO Box 324
Basic Payment Scheme customers and all RLE1 forms
Rural Payments Agency
PO Box 352
Environmental Stewardship (ES) customers
You can find details of address on the environmental stewardship page.
Rural Payments Agency
British Cattle Movement Service
How to keep up to date
We’re continuing to monitor and review our processes based on government advice and will update our customers if things change.
You can sign up to get email alerts when information changes on the Rural Payments Agency pages.
You can also follow us on:
Be aware of fraud
In these challenging times, fraudsters will try to take advantage. We are aware of coronavirus (COVID-19) related scams from people claiming to be from other government departments, and we want to remind you to remain vigilant.
We will not call you or send you emails or texts asking you to confirm your personal details or payment information.
- Never discuss your bank account details with someone you do not know
- We will not ask you to make a payment over the phone
- Delete any emails or texts you do not believe are genuine
- Do not open any links unless from our main email addresses:
- Be cautious about what information you share externally, particularly on social media
If you suspect an attempted fraud or feel you have been the subject of fraud, you can contact:
- RPA’s Fraud Referral Team on 0800 347 347 or FraudInConfidence@rpa.gov.uk
- Action Fraud (the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber-crime) on 0300 123 2040
Last updated 12 June 2021 + show all updates
Changes made to show which 2021 applications and claims have closed
The main updates include information about deadlines for CS applications, BPS applications, and CS and ES revenue claims.
Latest news item publised to advise change to Bank helpline opening hours.
Agency update following national lockdown from 5 January 2021.
Farm visits and inspections section updated.
Information updated about requesting cattle passport amendments - return to original process.
Added 4 November 2020 lockdown update
Update to bank helpline opening hours: Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm.
Removal of link to Dairy Response Fund, which has closed.
Information updated to show Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier applications and applications to the Farming Recovery Fund are now closed. Removal of information about Bank Holiday opening hours.
Updated - RPA helpline bank holiday opening times.
Update to Dairy Response Fund: application deadline extended to midnight on 11 September 2020.
Update CS Mid Tier information following 31 July deadline, and including reference to 31 August exception process deadline; removal of CS small grants following 31 July deadline.
Latest News item added about Countryside Stewardship - extension to capital agreements
Text updated to remove information about applying for BPS, and submitting CS and ES revenue claims as deadlines have now passed.
Update on inspections starting
Latest news updated with information for Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier applicants who may not be able to apply by 31 July deadline.
Latest news updated: Fund to support dairy farmers opens for applications and Amendments to BPS applications using the Rural Payments service.
Update to Latest News section with information about submitting Countryside Stewardship (CS) and Environmental Stewardship (ES) annual claim forms.
Latest news updated to advise that Rural Payments helpline will be open on 13 and 14 June.
Latest news updated to extend BPS deadline for land change requests to midnight on 9 June 2020.
Update to Latest News with farm visits and inspections starting week commencing 1 June.
Information added: Receipt for ES revenue claims; working safely during coronavirus outbreak.
Link provided to Defra's press release about Dairy support fund; link provided to a new GOV.UK page 'Rural payments: how to submit applications, claims, supporting evidence and documents'; and update to using postal services and external shared drives.
Updated RLE1 information with details about an electronic RLE1 form.
Update includes: extension to BPS application deadline, CS/ES revenue claim deadline, and legacy woodland claim deadline; information about organic certificates; farm visits and inspections; farm advice support for CS MT applicants; details of Farming Help support; details of who we will contact during the outbreak for sending BPS and CS reminders; links to RDPE Growth programme and BCMS temporary changes to requesting cattle passport amendments.
Latest news updated with information about applications and claims for 2020, and how to submit applications, claims, evidence and other supporting documents.