In order to claim payment under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) in Scotland, a farmer or crofter must satisfy several criteria and carry out certain tasks by specific dates each year. Below, this article explains how the process broadly works, and how to ensure your eligibility.
A farmer must have at least three hectares of land “at their disposal”
To claim BPS, a farmer must be able to demonstrate that the land he is claiming upon is at his disposal on the 15th May each year. Having the land “at your disposal” means being in charge of the management and maintenance decisions, and having responsibility for keeping the land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC).
Own at least three BPS entitlements for the correct Region
BPS entitlements enable a farmer to claim BPS on his land, and the minimum claim is 3 ha, therefore you need at least 3 entitlements for the appropriate Region. Think of entitlements like tokens – a farmer must hold a token of the correct type (i.e. Region 1, Region 2 or Region 3) for each hectare of land he wishes to claim upon. Entitlements were allocated at the start of the BPS scheme in 2015, and can be traded on the open market. Alternatively, those eligible under the Young Farmer or New Entrant schemes can apply for new entitlements, which will be allocated by the RPID.
Undertake an agricultural activity
An agricultural activity includes the growing and harvesting of crops, rearing, breeding and keeping animals for agricultural purposes, i.e. for food or for materials. Activity also includes maintaining land in a state suitable for grazing or cultivation, such as controlling non-native invasive weeds and scrub. If you do not grow any crops or keep any livestock then you must submit proof of an agricultural activity with your claim. If more than 50 per cent of your business’s holding is land naturally kept in a state suitable for grazing or cultivation (this is all land designated as Payment Region 2 or 3), you must undertake the production, rearing or growing of agricultural products on some of the Payment Region 2 and/or 3 land to be classed as an active farmer. More detailed information can be found on www.ruralpayments.org. In addition, to ensure you also qualify for the greening payment, you need to farm in ways that are beneficial to the environment and climate. Currently the RPID require farmers to follow a set of three greening requirements, being crop diversification, maintenance of permanent grassland and/or establishment of Ecological Focus Areas on 5% of arable land declared.
Be an “Active Farmer”
In order to claim BPS in Scotland you must meet the legal definition of an “active farmer” and undertake at least the minimum agricultural activity on eligible hectares and meet cross compliance rules. Under the SGRPID rules a farmer is defined as a natural or legal person (or a group of natural or legal persons) whose holding (production units) are situated within Scotland.
Prior to 2018 a claimant also had to make a declaration that they did not carry out any of the activities on the EU “Negative List”, which is a list of certain banned activities such as operating airports, sporting/recreational grounds or waterworks etc. The Negative List was intended to ensure payments were only being made to those who were actually farming the land, however the Negative List was removed by the Scottish Parliament in February 2018. This means that those who were previously excluded from claiming BPS payments may now be eligible, provided they satisfy the remaining criteria. For more information on buying and selling Scottish BPS entitlements contact Townsend Chartered Surveyors on 01392 823935. The Scottish deadline for transferring entitlements is 2nd April 2019.