Northern Ireland BPS Entitlements User Guide

What is needed to claim BPS payments in Northern Ireland?

To be eligible to claim payment under the Basic Payment Scheme a Northern Ireland claimant must:

  • Qualify as an “Active Farmer” (see below for details on this classification);
  • Have at least 3ha of eligible agricultural land;
  • Hold enough entitlements to match the eligible land they wish to claim on;
  • Be carrying out ‘agricultural activity’ on the land they wish to claim on;
  • Have the land at their disposal on the 15th of May in the year they wish to make a claim (or the next working day if this is a weekend);
  • Submit an online Single Application (SA) by the 15th of May deadline (or the next working day if this is a weekend);

You no longer need to:

  • Meet all Cross Compliance rules, from 2020 the crop diversification rule no longer applies. EFA and permanent grassland rules will still apply. At least 5% equivalent area of ecological focus area must be maintained if you have more than 15 ha of arable land.

The “Greening” element of the BPS payment (approx. 30% of the total), will continue to be paid if EFA and grassland rules are followed.

What payment can you expect?

From 2021/22, all entitlements were expected to receive the same payment rate, whilst previously each was composed of an element of historic value and element of the flat rate value. However as of 2024, there is still historic variation. DAERA are unable to confirm an average payment rate, however they have suggested it should be in the region of €229/ha, including the Greening payment. However we frequently see entitlements with a payment value of circa. €300/ha. The purchase price of any lot will reflect the claim value and tends to be at ‘face value’. Young Farmers (those under the age of 40) are also eligible for an additional top-up payment of 25% of the total value of their claim. as such you would be

BPS payments are capped at €150,000 excluding greening and Young Farmer payments.

Buying and selling entitlements and the National Reserve

All online transfer applications must be submitted using the DAERA online system (or by paper form for transfers by inheritance or change of business) by the 2nd of May each year in order for the Transferee to be paid for the entitlements in question when they submit their BPS claim.

In order to claim BPS payments, a potential claimant must first acquire enough entitlements for the land they wish to claim upon. Those that meet the criteria for the New Entrant and Young Farmer schemes are eligible to receive free entitlements from the National Reserve. Those that do not meet the requirements for allocation of entitlements under these schemes must purchase entitlements privately. For more information on the entitlement trading market and for current prices and availability, please contact Alasdair Squires (email).

Receiving entitlements from the National Reserve

“New farmers” must be at least 18 years of age, must be in ‘control’ (i.e. own more than 50% of the shares and votes) of the farm business, their business must have started ‘agricultural activity’ in 2013 or later and they must not have carried out any farming in the previous 5 years in their own right.

“New farmers” must make their first successful BPS application within 2 years of the calendar year in which the business started farming.

“Young farmers” must be between the age of 18 and 40, must be in ‘control’ of the farm business and must have set up or taken ‘control’ of the business for the first time less than 5 years before the scheme year in which they first applied for BPS payments.

In order to prove one’s status as a ‘new’ or ‘young’ farmer, evidence of the above must be received by DAERA no later than the 15th of May.

How do you buy entitlements?

If you are looking to buy Northern Ireland entitlements please see our Buyer’s Guide here, and a list of some available entitlements here.

How do you sell entitlements?

If you are looking to sell Northern Ireland entitlements please see our Seller’s Guide here, and a list of some wanted entitlements here.

Qualifying as an “Active Farmer” and those with conacre agreements

DAERA has announced that from 2018 the ‘negative list’ will be removed from the ’Active Farmer’ test. This means that those who operate any of these previously ineligible businesses can now submit a claim for BPS payments. However, claimants must still qualify as an ‘Active Farmer’, as listed below.

In order to claim BPS payments, the claimant must be able to provide sufficient evidence to DAERA demonstrating that they have the decision making power, benefits and financial risks in relation the agricultural activity. This is known as the ‘Active Farmer’ test.

In a conacre agreement, it is generally the case that the conacre tenant enjoys the decision making power, benefits and financial risks of the agricultural activity. Therefore it is the tenant who would be eligible for BPS payments.

BPS Transition

There are provisions within the Agriculture Bill for Northern Ireland to create their own system. Like all regions DAERA have announced a simplification of Greening measures.

  • For 2021 DAERA have confirmed that previous ‘Greening measures’ are no longer required.
  • This includes w3 crop rule and EFA.
  • BPS Permanent Pasture rule to reinstate if ploughed is maintained.
  • The Greening percentage for the 2020 Scheme year is 43.647186%.
  • The 2020 Young Farmers’ Payment will be paid at the rate of £77.04 per hectare. This is an increase from 2019 rate of £44.68. Young Farmers’ Payment is made on a per hectare basis up to a limit to 90 hectares.

Still have some questions or queries?

Email or ring us on 01392 823935.

Alasdair Squires

Alasdair Squires

01392 823935