Despite the persistent inclement weather, spring is “technically” here and the BPS season is only just around the corner. Mike Cluley takes a quick look at the Basic Payment Scheme 2020 with a particular focus on what the options are to comply with the Crop Diversification rules under Greening given the consistent wet weather which has significantly disrupted plantings during last autumn and this spring.
BASIC PAYMENT SCHEME 2020 RULES AND PAYMENTS
The application window for the BPS 2020 opens again on 12th March 2020 and closes on 15th May 2020. The scheme rules and Cross Compliance requirements are more or less the same as previous years due to the need for “equivalence” with the EU during the post Brexit transition phase until the end of this year. Payment rates are also likely to be similar to previous years following the announcement by the Chancellor late last year.
Given the incredibly wet winter and the recent flooding events that we have had, it is understandable that autumn and spring plantings may not have gone to plan and that this may have an impact on whether you are able to deliver Crop Diversification under the Greening element of the BPS. We thought it would be helpful to provide a reminder of what the options are for delivering Crop Diversification for those who may be struggling. The Crop Diversification rules require:
- 10-30ha Arable Land – Largest crop to be no more than 75% of the “Arable Area”
- 30ha + Arable Land – Largest crop to be no more than 75% of the “Arable Area” and the largest two crops to be no larger than 95% of the “Arable Area”
Please remember that Fallow Land can count as a “crop” for Crop Diversification purposes. There are also already exemptions from the Crop Diversification rules which may suit your situation:
- Where the total area of Permanent Grass and Temporary Grass is more than 75% of the eligible land on the holding.
- Where the area of Fallow, Temporary Grass or Leguminous crops (or combination) is more than 75% of the “Arable Area” of the holding.
If you are still unable to meet the Crop Diversification Rules or Exemptions then you will need to consider submitting an application for “Force Majeure” to inform the RPA of the reasons why you have been unable to meet the Crop Diversification rules. We understand that there will be no “blanket” derogation on Crop Diversification this year due to the “equivalence” rules. Despite reports in the press to the contrary the Republic of Ireland have not offered blanket derogations either and are requiring farmers to also rely on the Force Majeure route. Evidence to support such an application may include:
- Evidence of original cropping plans for 2020
- Photographs showing the field conditions. Ideally these should be geo-tagged (date stamped and contain reference features that can be related to a map) to confirm the date and position the photograph was taken
- Crop records including drilling dates, if applicable
- Seed invoices supported by delivery noteS
- Letters from suppliers unable to supply the seed required
- Rainfall data, related to the farm or local area, showing rain was exceptional during the period when they would normally be drilling or planting crops
- Evidence of soil types in the affected field(s)
The RPA should be notified within 15 days from the date on which they are in a position to do so. With an arable situation this date is likely to be the date that the farmer realises that they are no longer able to comply with the Crop Diversification rules and not the date of the “Force Majeure” event itself. Therefore, it is expected that this will be later in the spring when crop options (seed availability, rotation, drilling dates) or ground conditions still prevent plantings. If you feel that an application for Force Majeure will be required for your holding then it is strongly recommended that you start collating the evidence as soon as possible in order to present as robust a case to the RPA as possible.
FARMING RECOVERY SCHEME
For anyone who has been flooded along the River Avon between Evesham and Tewkesbury please remember that the Farming Recovery Scheme is currently open which offers funds for restoration of land, repairs and clear up works as a result of flooding. We are waiting to hear if the FRF scheme will be extended to those predominantly affected by the more recent flooding of the River Severn and River Wye.
If you require any assistance with completing your 2020 BPS application, Force Majeure application or an FRF scheme application then please do get in touch with Mike Cluley who will be able to help.