With attention moving to harvest activities on many farms, NFU senior BPS adviser, Richard Wordsworth, talks about some key reminders for this time of the year when it comes to BPS, cross compliance and greening. He writes:
I have set out below my top eight things that spring to mind at this time of the year and when I would be looking at them. I hope they help you with your pre harvest planning, if you have any questions then give NFU CallFirst a ring on 0370 8458458:
- No 1 - By 30 June - Deadline for Crop Diversification rules – First up, and there is not much time on this one. If you were impacted by the poor weather earlier this spring and could not as a result comply with the 2018 greening crop diversification (or ‘3 crop rules’), then you have until 30 June to tell the RPA, more details can be found here.
- No2 - By 6 July – Hedges used for EFA 2018 and RLE1 forms – Many of you have used hedges to help comply with your 5 % Greening EFA requirement this year. In order to claim on eligible hedges they need to be shown correctly on the RPA’s online maps. If you have claimed for greening this year on hedge lengths that are not shown on the online maps, then you needed to complete an RLE1 form and submit it to the RPA by 6 July to inform them of hedge mapping issues and substantiate your claim on those hedges. Have you done this? For more information please read the RPA’s guide entitled ‘How to check and change your hedge information’ which can be found here.
- No3 - As soon as possible - August Hedge / Tree Cutting Derogation – Next up, as you know this is a time of the year when there is a cross compliance restriction on cutting or trimming hedges and trees (which runs from 1 March to 31 August). A couple of years ago the NFU successfully argued for a derogation from these rules which allows some flexibility on cutting hedges / trees for those sowing oilseed rape or temporary grass in August. In order to use this derogation you will need to apply to the RPA and wait for their approval before carrying out the cutting. To avoid waiting in August for RPA’s approval to come through, you can apply now, we have put more information online here to help you here.
- No 4 Now - Field Boundary management – We get lots of questions at this time of the year on when someone can trim field margins, so we have online a briefing which covers considerations prior to trimming any field boundary (headlands, margins, hedges etc.) It can be found here.
- No 5 – Coming months - Keep an eye on what changes happen to your farm in the coming months – We have put together a short guide to help you remember the rules on when land claimed for BPS 2018 could become ineligible and would need to be withdrawn from your 2018 claim to help avoid any problems if you are inspected this year, it can be found here.
- No 6 – Now onwards - Remember greening rule changes for 2018 – As you know there were changes made to the greening rules for BPS 2018, to help you with some of the changes, such as management of fallow land or when to establish EFA catch and cover crops we have put together a handy guide here.
Below are some key dates to remember now which can be found in our handy wall chart here.
- 1 May to 30 June 2018 – Period for checking Crop diversification and EFA nitrogen fixing crops
- 30 June 2018 – EFA fallow rules in the main remain in place to this date (such as the ban on the use of plant production products or most cultivations are banned to this date)
- 20 August 2018 – 2018 EFA catch crops must be established by this date – note this is an earlier date compared to last year
- 1 October 2018 – 2018 EFA cover crops must be established by this date
- No 7 Now - Inspections & Cross Compliance record keeping – As soon as a BPS claim is submitted to the RPA, then the land and cross compliance requirements associated with the claiming business are liable to be inspected by the RPA. Each year RPA release information on cross compliance breaches from the previous year and most breaches are caused by record keeping issues. Whilst the NFU continues to challenge the requirements in place, the rules set out in the 2018 cross compliance handbook (which is only available online) are what you need to be reflecting on regularly to ensure you remain compliant. Now is a good time to refresh your knowledge of these requirements, the RPA rules can be found here.
- No 8 Coming weeks - Planning for Greening 2019 compliance now – Finally please be aware that there is one change to the greening rules we know about now for greening 2019. This relates to the ending of Double Funding – this change could affect what you use to get to 5% EFA greening requirement in 2019. With many of you already planning cropping and compliance for greening 2019 now, it is important that if you have used agri-environmental scheme option land to help with greening 2018 or thinking of doing so for 2019 - I would urge you to read our online article here to avoid any compliance issues next spring.
That’s it from me now, while I have covered scheme issues here, outstanding payments is still something that the NFU team continues to work on.