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19 March 2017
The 2017 Basic Payment Scheme is now open for applications
The 2017 Basic Payment Scheme opened on 1st March, signaling that applications can now be submitted online through the Rural Payments Service, which is run by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). Through this online system, BPS applications can be submitted, farmers and agents are able to check and update personal and business details as well as transfer entitlements.
During 2016, a record 80% of applications were received online. This figure is expected to increase for 2017, according to the Rural Payments Agency Interim Chief Executive, Paul Caldwell.
From 1st March, farmers and agents can complete their declarations and confirm their information before submitting their completed applications online. For those who applied for their 2016 payments online, an email will be sent with all information required for this year’s application process. For those who are new to the process in 2017 and are yet to engage an agent, a paper form and guidance on how to apply online will soon be sent.
The BPS is the biggest of the European Union’s rural grants and payments to help the farming industry. The application process is an annual event where submissions are completed between March and May, with payments being made to farmers from December onwards. The application deadline this year is midnight on the 15th May.
Entitlements will be calculated once the RPA gauges the total number of hectares of eligible land claimed for each region in 2017. It is expected that this work will be completed around November. The greening part of a farmer’s payment and any Young Farmer Payment entitlements are worked out independently of these calculations. The RPA no longer issue entitlement statements, but all this information may be found online.
Not to be confused with the BPS, the third year of the Countryside Stewardship scheme also opened for applications on the 10th March. Farmers and land managers looking to make environmental improvements in the wider countryside, such as reducing diffuse water pollution or improving the environment for birds, pollinators and farm wildlife can apply for the Mid Tier grants. The Higher Tier of Countryside Stewardship grants specifically focuses on environmentally important sites, including commons and woodlands, where the more complex management requires support from Natural England or the Forestry Commission.
Those thinking of applying for the Higher Tier, including woodland improvement, will need to have submitted an initial application by 5th May 2017. Higher Tier application packs will need to be requested by 13th April so that Natural England can send out the maps and evidence requirements in time for farmers and land managers to develop their application.
Mid Tier applications need to be submitted by 30th September 2017 and application packs will need to be requested by 31st July.
If you require support, advice or assistance with the RPA, submitting your BPS application, have a question regarding Countryside Stewardship grants or any other matters concerning entitlements and rural payments, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance. We are available for agent contacts, ad-hoc support and advice at appropriate levels to your requirements.