BPS 2020: Final reminders and future checks

A BPS blog header image with tractors on ploughed field

In the fourth of a series of BPS 2020 focused blogs, NFU senior BPS adviser Richard Wordsworth talks about some final reminders and what to think about going forward in the coming months. He writes:

Final reminders

The 15 June deadline has now passed and we are now moving into the late application and late amendment with a penalty period that runs to midnight on 10 July 2020.

If you have not already done so, I urge you to do one final check of all your BPS 2020 information before 10 July to make sure all is in order, this is to avoid the cases we see every year where a lower payment or penalty has been applied due to an error being found. There is still a bit of time to get things right and amend the claim. Here are some points to consider:

  • Copies of all documents. Have you really got a ‘carbon copy’ of everything sent in case the RPA seeks clarification on an element of the claim made? (For BPS claims that is a hard copy/copy saved on a PC or laptop showing the time and date of submission.)
  • Receipts. If you have posted documents, follow the RPA guidance on what receipts should be received. Chase the RPA if the receipt does not arrive. The RPA has updated its inbound document grid recently to help you understand what a receipt is generated for, which can be found here.
  • Does your copy of the application submitted show correctly what you want to claim on? Double check your BPS claim PDF summary and the areas shown in column C8 of the field data sheet and the summary total. Is this what you expected? Equally, for commons or EFA, check the options you have applied for and the EFA summary. Again, is this what you expected to see?
  • Has the RPA got your online claim? In terms of receipts, for online claims there are four ways to see a claim has been successfully submitted.
  • Immediately after submission an online notification should have appeared, as well as the status of claim showing as ‘submitted’ with time and date.
  • There will also be a message in the messages tab that shows it is submitted.
  • Finally, after submitting the claim, you should have generated and downloaded a final PDF of your application. This will show the document as being submitted and with the time and date showing. That copy should show the correct entries.

If after all this you need to amend the 2020 applications or do something else, please have a look at the information in this guide or give NFU CallFirst advisers a call on 0370 845 8458.

Going forward

Remember BPS is not just about the spring, there are things that you need to consider in the coming months. Below is a quick round up.

  • Keeping the BPS claim under review – It is vital you keep your claim under review to avoid a penalty being applied to your payment, as it is a little known fact, that all of the agricultural land farmers use to claim BPS on must be used primarily for an agricultural activity for the whole calendar year, not just at 15 May when it is available to claim on (this date did not change this year). If agricultural and non-agricultural activities are taking place on the same land, the land won’t be eligible if the intensity, nature, duration, and timing of the non-agricultural activity significantly interferes with agricultural activity. It is therefore key to consider during the remainder of the year activity such as infrastructure developments: a new shed or track or infrastructure installations or; land coming out of agricultural use, such as land sold off to a neighbour to extend their garden. If needed, it is possible to withdraw part of a BPS application without penalty at any time after submission unless you have already been told about any non-compliance in the application, an inspection has revealed any non-compliance in your application, or, have received advance warning of an inspection. For those affected by the development of HS2 we have pulled together specific information, which can be found here.
  • Cross compliance and rights of way – Given the recent increased use of access routes in the countryside we have pulled together a reminder around the need to maintain Public Rights Of Way (PROW) under cross compliance GAEC 7b. This standard requires you to keep public rights of way open and accessible. Also, remember about reinstatement of rights of way where they may cross arable land, given the increase in spring cropping this year as well as maintaining right of way features. Our reminder can be found here.
  • Cross compliance and irrigation / water abstraction – With the recent period of dry weather, if you abstract water for irrigation or in some way divert water from its natural course, please read our guidance to ensure you stay within the rules. Read the guidance here.
  • Field boundary management – Remember, if you wish to trim hedges in August ahead of sowing oilseed rape or temporary grass in August, you first need to obtain a derogation from the RPA. More information can be found here. If you are thinking of trimming other field boundary features, such as grass strips or watercourse banks, have a read of our guide to help you.
  • BPS 2020 greening reminders – A number of you this spring included the Ecological Focus Area options of catch and / or cover crops on your BPS forms. It is important to remember that, if you did this, you need to establish the correct eligible mix in good time for the crops to be emerged and giving a good covering of the ground by 20 August for EFA catch crops and 1 October 2020 for EFA cover crops. More information on these rules and other considerations can be found here.

That’s it for now and remember if you need any help, please call NFU CallFirst on 0370 845 8458.

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