The farming press is full of information on the CAP reform, but it is important to note that the vast majority of detail published so far could still be changed, said Tim Sedgewick of H&H Land and Property in Durham.
One key element of the CAP system is the entitlements which form the basis for payments under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS). If you hold them, you can apply for payment under the SPS.
There are two types of entitlement – normal entitlements, which are activated (claimed) against land, and entitlements with special conditions, which are activated against livestock.
Mr Sedgewick explained: “To activate means to use your entitlements along with eligible land or livestock to apply for payment to the SPS. Your entitlements statement issued in November/December each year will show the number you hold.
“It has never been so important to check this year’s statement to see how many current entitlements you hold against the eligible area you farm.”
Defra appears to be favoring the option to roll over current entitlements into the new scheme to form the backbone of the next payment mechanism, he said.
This will require all your current entitlements to be allocated to an eligible hectare of land in the 2015 claim year.
If you have surplus entitlements or have lost land during 2014, then you risk this surplus being taken off you to return to the national reserve.
Mr Sedgewick said: “Putting this into context, if a farm business, claimed SPS on an eligible area of 50 hectares but owned 55 entitlements, they would lose the five surplus entitlements.”
However, the good news is that there are fellow farmers and landowners looking for extra entitlements.
So this farm business could sell their excess and gain capital which could then be used to reinvest in their farm business and infrastructure.