The Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) application deadline of 15th May might feel like a long time ago now, but just because the files have been put away, it doesn’t mean that BPS is over.

The BPS scheme year runs from 1st January to 31st December, so whilst the application has to be submitted in May, the rules have to be followed for the whole year and what you declared should match what’s on the ground until the end of the year.

What land is eligible?

Land used to claim BPS needs to be eligible for the whole year, not just 15th May. To be eligible for BPS, the land must meet the following three criteria:

1. It has to be ‘agricultural area’ for the whole of 2019; and
2. It must be used primarily for an ‘agricultural activity’ for the whole of 2019; and
3. It must have been ‘at the disposal’ of the farmer on 15th May.

What if things change?

So, if after the 15th May, your land stops being ‘agricultural area’ or is no longer primarily used for agriculture, you are at risk of penalties and deductions if your land is inspected.  (Don’t forget that inspections aren’t just in person any more, most inspections are done via high resolution satellite images!).

Typical examples of activities that could make some or all your land ineligible would be utility works or road schemes, camp sites, cross country courses or motor sports. The duration and intensity of these activities will affect how eligible or not your land is, and this can often change over the year so I’s important to check the rules to make sure you comply.

If your land does become ineligible during the year, as long as you tell the RPA first, you won’t suffer any penalties. This also goes for cropping changes, especially if they impact on your greening calculations. Coming clean at the inspection or immediately after is too late!

Land sales and lettings

Land sales or transfers during the scheme year also need to be considered. If you are the BPS claimant and your land is sold or let out after 15th May, you will remain liable for penalties and deductions for any rule breaches for the remainder of the year. Even if the new owner or occupier commits the offense, it is the person who submitted the claim who is liable. It is therefore important to make sure that both parties are aware of the situation and appropriate indemnities or guarantees are in place.

If you would like any advice on BPS, please do not hesitate to get in touch – 01684 325215 / 07814 033449