In light of the recent guidance published by the Rural Payments Agency, we feel it appropriate to update you on the latest news.  In summary detailed below are some major announcements :-


Dual Use

  • Previously predicted that it would not be allowed to continue, Dual Use has been confirmed to be permitted going forward.  
  • Solar Parks/Farms – Any land in this use will not be eligible for Basic Payment. 
  • Exchange Rate – An average over the month of September will be used as the exchange rate for Basic Payment, rather than a set say in September as previous.  
  • Inspection Period for Basic Payment

    5% of farms will be inspected each year. The inspection period will be from 1 May  to 30 June.   


Ecological Focus Area

EFA features must accumulate a total area of at least 5% of the arable defined land on a holding if not exempt, features include: 


Previously it was thought that hedges would cause a payment delay, now a suggested new approach has been made to ensure that payments are made on time.  We believe that this is still of concern and if possible other EFA features are used before hedges are relied on. 

Buffer Strips

It was hoped that anything wider than the 1m strip could then be classed as fallow.  This has been confirmed, however, these features need to be “visually distinguishable”.  We are currently obtaining the exact definition from the RPA as to what this means.


The fallow period is between the 1 January and  30 June.  After such time, there are no restrictions. 

Catch or Cover Crops

A catch or cover crop needs to be a sown mix of at least two different cover types, one cereal and one none cereal.  The recent guidance published suggests that the following crops that can be grown in a sown mix are: 

  • §     Rye
  • §     Vetch
  • §     Lucerne
  • §     Phacelia
  • §     Barley
  • §     Mustard
  • §     Oats

 We are currently questioning whether there is any further crops over and above this list that would qualify. 

Stewardship Agreements

From 2015 onwards ELS/HLS Agreement holders will need to submit a claim by the 15 May in order to receive their payment.   

Young Farmer/New Entrant

This is a reserve of Entitlements available to claimants that fall under this category.  It is known as the National Reserve.Young farmers must show that they are in control of a business, for example directly exposed to risk and have the majority share/voting rights. The young farmer must be at least 18 years old and no more than 40. 

For a new entrant one must have started farming within 2013 or later and again over 18 years old.  Before this date they must not have been carrying out another agricultural activity. 

Young Farmer Top Up

In addition to the National Reserve, there is also a young farmer top up for those that meet the same definition of that detailed above.  For this an additional 25% of the payment is made on the first 90 hectares. 


As part of the “digital by default” pledge, there will be a new computer system available for the submission of all Basic Payment forms.As part of this new computer system there will be a new registration/enrolment process.

Later this year all customers will be prompted to start the enrolment process which will involve “identity assurance”, basically verifying they are who they say they are on on-line.

Whilst we note that this is going to be a difficult process for some farming customers, this is the only option to submit a BPS claim.

As and when any further announcements are made we will keep you updated.  However, in the meantime if you have any queries please feel free to contact one of our Team on 01829 773000.