There has been lots of debate surrounding the European Commission’s proposed changes to the Greening requirements of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). It has now been confirmed that, from 2018, there will be a ban on applying spray chemicals to nitrogen fixing crops used towards a farmer’s ecological focus area (EFA). This will affect a lot of farmers and we would advise those who use beans or peas to look at what other EFA options they may be able to use. There has, however, been a ‘U’ turn on the plans to increase the EFA fallow period from 6 to 9 months which is good news.
The RPA is working to simplify the system of penalties for over-declarations. An over-declaration is where a farmer claims land which is not eligible for BPS. From 2016, if the over-claim is greater than 3% of the eligible area or 2 hectares, the RPA will apply a penalty of 1.5 times the over-claim. However, if this is the first time a farmer has received a penalty under this new rule and if the over-claim is no greater than 10% of the eligible area then a ‘reduced rate’ of 0.75 times the over-claim will apply. This penalty will be limited to 100% of the farmer’s BPS payment for that year.
Any farmer that receives a penalty is likely to have a further inspection by the RPA in the following claim year. If the farmer is penalised again then the ‘reduced rate’ of 0.75 mentioned above will be revoked and the penalty will be charged at the ‘standard rate’ of 1.5 instead. On top of this the farmer will have to re-pay the reduced penalty they received the year before. This second penalty will not be limited to 100% of the amount the farmer originally claimed and will be recovered from any claims the farmer makes in the following 3 years.
There are also changes to the penalties for non-compliance of the Greening requirements. From 2017, if a farmer fails to meet the crop diversification or ecological focus area rules, not only will they lose the Greening part of their Basic Payment but a penalty can be applied on top.
To avoid receiving penalties, it is essential for all farmers to ensure that the BPS forms are completed correctly in the first instance. Early consideration of the greening requirements, especially given the changes proposed for 2018, will also make completion of the form easier and hopefully reduce future penalties.
If you require further advice please contact Polly Sewell or Andrew Jenkinson.Back to articles