Farmers advised to act quickly on Basic Payment Scheme applications

A farmer ploughing his field at Bayfield.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

A farmer ploughing his field at Bayfield.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Farmers and landowners hoping to claim the first subsidies under a reformed EU payment scheme have been advised to act quickly to ensure a smooth transaction.

The new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) was introduced from January 1, replacing the previous Single Payment Scheme (SPS) following changes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Although the deadline for BPS applications is May 15, applicants have been warned to ensure they are ready to register as soon as they receive notice from Defra – and not to leave it until the last minute.

Charlie Mack, an agri-business consultant at the Norwich office of Brown and Co, said: 'A last-minute rush could increase the risk of the system crashing, wasting valuable time which could be better spent on the farm at that time of year. Leaving it late also reduces the chances of farmers being able to amend applications before the deadline, which could result in penalties.

'The Single Payment Scheme process ended up being fairly straightforward. It would probably be a mistake to think this new process will be as simple, first time around. It is also worth remembering that farm software packages used for SPS cannot be used to apply for BPS in 2015.'

Defra has started sending letters or emails to agents, farmers and landowners, inviting them to register via the CAP Information Service (CAPIS). One key difference is that BPS applications can only be made online, so farmers need to check their systems can cope, said Mr Mack. 'Many farmers only have very poor internet speeds while others don't have computers at all. Defra has written to those with no digital history offering extra help. We would urge them to act quickly.

'By doing their homework now, they will be better prepared to ensure they meet all the registration requirements when the time comes.'

Most Read

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) has also advised early engagement in the registration process. An NFU spokesman said: 'You will not be able to do all the necessary work to complete your claim in one visit to the new system. You will need to build your claim up in a number of stages before being able to submit the claim.

'There are still many farmers without broadband or skills to submit a claim online, so please speak to the RPA (Rural Payments Agency) at the earliest opportunity about available assistance.'

How will your business be affected by the new BPS system? Contact