March Ponderings

Added on March 5, 2018 in Recent News

March Professional Ponderings

Considering it should be feeling more spring like, the ‘Beast from the East’ seems to have been interfering, bringing what hopefully will be the last spell of wintery weather. We are all definitely ready for some spring weather to come our way! Our thoughts have been with those who are lambing, calving, and of course defrosting endless pipes during such challenging weather.  Fingers crossed for a settled, warmer month ahead.

Firstly to start off this month’s ponderings we have confirmation from the Rural Payments Agency that the BPS Application window will open on 13th March 2018. Therefore it is time to start thinking about completing this year’s applications, and if you would like any assistance with your submissions, please do not hesitate to contact the Agricultural Team at Bletsoes.

The BPS entitlement trading window has opened and we have already seen a number of clients registering an interest in buying entitlements for the current year. If you have entitlements you did not use last year, and will not be using in this claim year, you will lose the number of entitlements which have not been used for two consecutive years. Should you find yourself in this situation you should look to sell them before 18th May 2018. If you are interested in buying or selling entitlements do please contact Verity Straker with the details.

We move on to the dreaded RPA mapping changes which many of you will have already discovered if you have had a chance to log in to your RPA account. In previous years, the RPA have said that an RLE1 form must be submitted to revert any changes which have arisen due to mapping system errors. This year, the RPA intend to set up a phone line to deal with simple changes which do not require a sketch map (for example reverting an ineligible feature or land cover), the theory behind this being that some changes can be actioned immediately. Many of you may have seen mapping changes which have meant some field parcels have been merged. The RPA have suggested that this may be due to a gap in the boundary hedge of more than 20 metres between the parcels. The RPA have advised that leaving the merged parcels as they are will not affect your claim or your eligibility to claim EFA on those hedges. However, if you do wish to split the field parcels back out again, it is advised to put posts in the hedge gaps to define the boundary in order to prevent this happening in future years. Lastly, a new hedge layer is to be added to the online land viewer. The land parcels will be pre-populated with hedge data from your 2016 application and the measurements will show in a table on the land view page. This table will also tell you if the hedge is eligible for EFA or not. If, however, these pre-populated measurements are incorrect, an RLE1 form must be submitted to the RPA to amend them.

To continue with the theme of payments and funding, there are many options for Grant Funding available to farmers under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) and Countryside Stewardship. As mentioned in last month’s ponderings, Natural England have introduced 4 new simplified offers which can be applied for as an alternative to the full Mid-Tier Scheme. However for farmers who are in a High Priority Water Quality Area it is worth considering the Water Capital Items which can be incorporated into a Mid-Tier Application or applied for as a stand-alone grant. These stand-alone agreements are capped at £10,000 and run for a 2 year period but it is necessary for the local Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer (CSFO) to visit your property and approve your chosen options under the agreement before an application can be submitted. We can put you in touch with the correct CSFO and arrange a meeting for you if this is applicable to your area.

Finally, may we offer our Congratulations to Minette Batters, following her election as the first female President of the NFU. Minette lives and works on her tenanted 300 head beef farm in Wiltshire, so being an active farmer herself, she looks set to be an excellent advocate for British Agriculture during the BREXIT negotiations.

Verity Straker, Daisy Miles & Grace Millbank

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