Ongoing BPS saga
With the saga of 2015 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) still ongoing the announcement that the 2016 BPS application window is open, as of Saturday 19th March, will not be particularly welcoming news, as it hardly feels like yesterday that the 2015 application window had just passed. With a number of 2015 payments still to be made and many farmers claiming they have been underpaid the 2016 application process doesn’t look as though it will be any easier. The application deadline, for 2016, is the 16th May, as the 15th is a Sunday.
Payments cannot be cross checked until a Claim statement has been received. David Hume, Farm Business Consultant at George F White advises that “where a farmer works out they have been underpaid they should email the RPA so that this can be formally logged and also reduce the pressure on the Helpline.”
There will be much scepticism as to how organised and successful this year’s application and payment process will be; with the announcement that BPS applications are to be made online. David believes that “online does not necessarily mean a quicker application process compared to the 2015 paper form. With claim and entitlement statements still to be issued to farmers this won’t leave much time for pre-submission checks of the pre-populated application to make sure the Rural Payment Agency (RPA) has uploaded data onto the online system correctly. Farmers will also have to re-do their Greening calculations as they cannot merely assume it will be the same as last year.”
There are many new features on the online system, including transfer land and entitlements between applicants. The function of being able to transfer land and entitlements overnight will make for a much quicker and easier process compared to the old paper RLE1 form. However, any field amendments which need to be made, for example splitting fields or marking a permanent ineligible feature, still has to be completed by submitting an RLE1 form to the RPA.
David goes on to stress that “it is key for farmers to be proactive and start thinking about and drafting their BPS application now, even though for some, springs crops wont have been sown yet. The 16th May may seem a while off yet but 9 weeks will soon fly by, especially with everyone busy concentrating on sowing, calving and/or lambing. For those who are aware of changes to land parcels it will be critical to get these changes submitted to the RPA as soon as possible, as any paper RLE1 forms submitted will have to be processed and then married up with the BPS application.”