A rural business consultant is warning North East farmers of the need to get all paperwork in order to prepare for registration for the new Basic Payment Scheme.
Following the RPA’s gradual rolling out of the BPS, the next stage of releases are due at the end of the month.
According to David Hume, of George F White, steady progress has been made so far, with farmers now registering on the new online system and “very few teething problems” occurring – although heavy traffic on the RPA website has meant it has been extremely slow at times.
The RPA is now due to release the next stage of updates to the online system, meaning there will be little or no access to the registration site on January 30.
Subsequently, for a few days after this, several features will be inaccessible until the updates are complete.
No details have been released as yet about what the updates will include, but Mr Hume said: “Let’s hope that they will be more interactive and productive, rather than just being able to check business and land details and empowering agents, which is all that is currently available.”
Alongside these updates, it was confirmed earlier in January that for all existing environmental stewardship agreement holders, an Annual Claim Form will have to be submitted.
This will have to be completed every year to allow claimants to receive their annual payment.
Currently payments are made automatically from the commencement of the agreement.
However, revisions to the CAP regulations require agreement holders to submit an Annual Claim Form by May 15.
Mr Hume said: “Even though this latest requirement will be another piece of red tape for many farmers, at least the submission date is the same as the BPS application deadline.”
Any claims made after May 15 will incur a payment penalty for that year of 1% for every working day that the claim is late.
If the claim is received after June 9, no payment at all will be made for that year.
Mr Hume added: “This is obviously a significant change for all agreement holders, and failure to comply will have severe effects on the cash flow.
“Natural England have indicated that the claim forms will be sent out in March. However, further details are still to be given on whether the form can be submitted online.
“With Claim Forms being sent out in March, that only leaves around two months for farmers to complete and submit them before May 15. It is therefore vital that the Annual Claim Form is not put to the bottom of the to-do-list.”