Using a farm agent
As a farmer, you can authorise an agent or partner to act on your behalf. Agents can buy and sell farms and agricultural land, apply for grants or administer farming schemes for you, such as the:
- Single Payment Scheme (SPS) run by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA)
- Environmental Stewardship Scheme run by Natural England
You need to have authority - eg as a partner or company secretary - to delegate responsibility to a third party. If you have business partners, they need to all agree to the delegation.
For the Environmental Stewardship Scheme run by Natural England, you can choose a local agent from a register maintained by Natural England. However, Natural England does not guarantee or endorse these agents, and you should check their qualifications and experience before using them.
Role of agents in farming businesses
There are many types of farming agents, both individuals and organisations. They may specialise in particular areas, such as land surveying, law, the charitable sector and consultation.
Agents are mainly used for:
- buying and selling farms and agricultural land
- Single Payment Scheme applications
- Environmental Stewardship Scheme applications and administration
For advice on the type of agent you might need, read the guide on starting up in farming.
Authorising an agent to apply for the Single Payment Scheme
You can authorise an agent or partner to apply for, or administer, SPS applications to the RPA.
You will need to complete form SP9 before the agent can act on your behalf. As well as SPS, this authorisation covers Uplands Transitional Payment, Protein Crop Premium and Area Payment For Nuts schemes.
There are three levels of SPS authorisation, which allow agents to:
- view SPS claims only
- view and amend SPS claims
- view and amend SPS claims, and receive mail on your behalf
You can authorise more than one person at the same address. Otherwise, you should fill in a separate SP9 form for each agent. Only one agent can be authorised to view and amend claims and receive your post.
In a farming partnership, each partner should sign the SP9 form.
If you want to change agents, you should use RPA form CREG10. You can also update agent authorisations over the telephone.
How to empower someone to act on your behalf
To empower someone to act on your behalf you must have legal or full empowerment. Your empowerment must be higher than that of the person who is being added. Also, to add a legally empowered person to the business you must yourself be legally empowered. For more information and authorisation, call the RPA Helpline on Telephone 0845 603 7777.
There are also three forms you can use to empower someone to act on your behalf. The form you need to complete will depend on what kind of empowerment you want to give the person as well as what forms you have completed before. The three forms are:
- CReg 01 customer registration form - you should use this if your business has never completed one before. This will allow you to tell the RPA about all the people responsible for your business (eg directors, partners) and the people you wish to represent your business (eg agents).
- CReg 10 amendment form - use this if you have completed a CReg 01 in the past and now wish to add someone to your business. However, if you only want to authorise empowerment for the SPS use form SP9.
- SP9 agent authorisation form - use this to empower the people you want to represent your business for the SPS only. You can complete this form even if you have never completed a CReg 01.
What is the main or primary contact for?
The main or primary contact is the individual who the RPA will contact regarding all aspects of your business. You have the option to appoint someone other than the main contact to act on behalf of your business for SPS purposes only.
What are the different levels of empowerment?
If a person is legally empowered they can access and amend all details held for the business on the RPA’s Customer Register. This includes payment and financial information. This is the only empowerment that allows a person to change controlled details for a business.
Legal empowerment allows a person to act on behalf of the business. The RPA will accept any claim applications (including any subsequent amendments or withdrawals) and associated undertakings made by a legally empowered person as being on behalf of the business, where the scheme rules permit it.
A fully empowered person can access all information held for the business on the Customer Register. They can also change information for the business but can’t change controlled details.
Full empowerment also allows a person to act on behalf of the business. The RPA will accept any claim applications (including any subsequent amendments or withdrawals) and associated undertakings made by a fully empowered person as being on behalf of the business, where the scheme rules permit it.
Partial empowerment allows a person to access all information held for the business on the Customer Register. However, they will not be able to make any amendments to information held for the business.
Environmental Stewardship register of agents
You can authorise agents to apply for, or administer, membership of all the Environmental Stewardship schemes run by Natural England, including:
- Entry Level Stewardship
- Higher Level Stewardship
- Organic Entry Level Stewardship
- Uplands Entry Level Stewardship
For more information, see the guide on Environmental Stewardship: the basics.
Natural England register of agents
Natural England publishes regional registers of agents working on Environmental Stewardship and aims to update them monthly. They can remove any person or organisation from the lists, although they do not:
- endorse people or organisations on the register
- check qualifications of agents
- arbitrate on contractual disputes between agents and clients
There is a Natural England register of agents for each of the English regions.
How to use the register to find an agent
When choosing an agent to administer your Environmental Stewardship Scheme, you should:
- produce a shortlist of agents
- get several quotations
- check whether VAT is included in their fees
- check if the agent’s qualifications and experience match your needs
- ask for references and/or examples of the agent’s previous work
Once you have chosen an agent, you will need to fill in an authorisation form to allow them to act for you on Environmental Stewardship matters.
If you want to authorise more than one agent, you must fill in separate forms for each. You should tell Natural England if you have cancelled a previous agent’s authorisation.
Natural England Enquiry Service
0845 600 3078
0845 603 7777
08459 33 55 77