Don’t get caught out by BPS small print

Irish Independent - Farming - - FORESTRY -

THERE is just one week to go be­fore next week’s Ba­sic Pay­ment Scheme (BPS) dead­line (Tues­day, May 15) so make sure to sub­mit your BPS ap­pli­ca­tion in time, es­pe­cially if you also have forestry on the farm

Forestry pay­ments and BPS pay­ments can quite of­ten be com­bined.

EL­I­GI­BIL­ITY

El­i­gi­ble land that was de­clared in a Sin­gle Pay­ment Scheme (SPS) ap­pli­ca­tion in 2008 and which will be planted in 2018 (or planted since 2009) can con­tinue to be el­i­gi­ble for a BPS pay­ment in 2018 pro­vided it sat­is­fies a num­ber of con­di­tions in­clud­ing the fol­low­ing: ÷The land to be planted was de­clared on a 2008 SPS ap­pli­ca­tion. ÷The de­clared land was el­i­gi­ble for SPS in 2008. ÷The area must have given a right to pay­ment un­der the 2008 SPS.

If you are con­sid­er­ing es­tab­lish­ing a for­est, it is vi­tal that you and your forestry consultant un­der­stand that you must con­tinue to farm at least 10pc of the el­i­gi­ble hectares de­clared in 2008 — sub­ject to a min­i­mum area of three hectares — in order to con­tinue to be re­garded as an ac­tive farmer or BPS el­i­gi­bil­ity.

If you are a new en­trant to farm­ing, the min­i­mum area to be re­tained in an agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­ity will be fixed by the De­part­ment on a case-by-case ba­sis.

AP­PLI­CA­TIONS

When fill­ing the BPS ap­pli­ca­tion, the sta­tus of forestry parcels must be ac­cu­rately re­flected in terms of Par­cel Use on the back of the form.

The ta­ble to the right pro­vides a sum­mary of the BPS ap­pli­ca­tion re­quire­ments for ap­pli­cants with forestry parcels which will vary ac­cord­ing to the tim­ing of their for­est es­tab­lish­ment:

Do keep in mind that all en­ti­tle­ments al­lo­cated un­der BPS and the Na­tional Re­serve are sub­ject to a two-year us­age rule.

Any en­ti­tle­ment that re­mains un­used for two con­sec­u­tive years will re­vert to the Na­tional Re­serve.

GREEN­ING

Tillage farm­ers in par­tic­u­lar will have green­ing obli­ga­tions. Arable farm­ers should be aware of their obli­ga­tions, rel­e­vant green­ing area cal­cu­la­tions and should also be aware of any ex­emp­tions that may ap­ply.

For ex­am­ple, if you have more than 15 hectares of el­i­gi­ble arable land, 5pc of this area must be in Eco­log­i­cal Fo­cus Area (EFA), apart from ex­empted cat­e­gories.

Both BPS-el­i­gi­ble forestry and Short Ro­ta­tion Cop­pice (SRC) are reck­on­able as EFAs. One hectare of el­i­gi­ble forestry is equal to one hectare of EFA, while one hectare of SRC is equiv­a­lent to 0.3 ha of EFA. BPS-el­i­gi­ble af­forested land and SRC must be lo­cated on your hold­ing.

Farm­ers are re­quired to separately de­clare all their EFA ar­eas and fea­tures. The EFA dec­la­ra­tion is made at the level of each par­cel.

This ar­ti­cle is only a very brief in­tro­duc­tion to the very com­plex Ba­sic Pay­ment Scheme. So the ad­vice as usual is read the small print and dou­ble-check your facts. It is your money.

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