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Planning for the future of agricultural payments

Tue 23 February 2021

Key Dates for your diary in 2021

The RPA have now published the key dates you need for 2021:

Or visit the RPA online diary - here

What are the changes to BPS in 2021?

DEFRA and the RPA have made some key changes to BPS this year. These are:

1.       Removing the greening rules.

The following rules will be removed: Crop diversification | Ecological focus areas | Permanent grassland rules.

Greening monies will automatically be added to BPS entitlements so the amount claimed will not change due to the removal of greening.

2.       Farmers don’t need to use all their entitlements once every two years

3.       The window for applying for “Force Majeure” has been extended to 8 weeks

4.       Cross Compliance Changes

It has been made clear that the rules have not changed, however the RPA have made changes to ensure greater fairness for inspections and penalties which include:

  • Penalties will not be the default response to a breach
  • Penalties will be more proportionate through changes to the verifiable standards where possible
  • Allowing RPA to apply flexible approaches encouraging more constructive and advisory interactions
  • Targeting efforts to areas of high risk

Further information can be found in the “Guide to Cross Compliance 2021”

5.       Phasing out of Direct Payments begins

By now, I expect you will have heard about the reducing payments for BPS and the reduction payments from 2021 to 2024 which are below. These will apply to the total BPS payment including any young farmer payments.

In 2021 are you thinking of applying for Countryside Stewardship? How do you know which agreement type would be right for your farm?

Higher Tier (competitive)

Is aimed at farms with high environmental significance including SSSI’s, Scheduled Monuments and Priority Habitats. Due to the complex nature of these sites, one to one support from Natural England is provided to help draft the scheme.

Mid-Tier (competitive)

If you don’t have SSSI’s or Scheduled Monuments on your land but are looking to apply for an annual revenue payment and capital payments, Mid-Tier might be suitable.

Capital Grants (competitive)

The aim is to protect and enhance the natural environment by increasing biodiversity, boosting habitats and improving water and air quality.

There are 3 options, which between them cover 67 capital items:

  • Boundaries, Tress and Orchards
  • Water Quality
  • Air Quality (including options for Automatic slurry scrapers, low ammonia emission flooring for livestock buildings, planting trees)

This year, the grant limits have been increased to £20,000 per option, meaning the maximum amount available per SBI is £60,000.

Wildlife offers (non-competitive)

Aimed at benefiting pollinators, farmland birds and improved habitats. These agreements don’t include capital items but you can apply for a capital grant in addition, on the same land. Options under these offers are limited and not the same as those available under mid-tier. You aren’t eligible to apply for a wildlife offer if you have a SSSI, ELS or HLS or in an Inheritance Tax exemption agreement with HMRC.

  • Arable offer
  • Lowland grazing offer
  • Mixed farming offer
  • Upland offer

If you would like to discuss which type of agreement might be suitable for your farm in more detail, get in touch with professional team in Tiverton on 01884 235701

Environmental Land Management

There are also lots of announcements expected in 2021 with regard to the new ELM schemes replacing direct payments from 2024.  The “Farming is Changing” Booklet provides useful detail on the various of components of support in the future and what to expect from the new schemes, but here’s what we are expecting in 2021:

Early 2021 further information about National Pilot Scheme for ELMs including invitations of expressions of interest

February 2021 – details on Farmers in Protected Landscapes – funding through Protected Landscape bodies, in particular upland farmers

March 2021 – further information on the Farm Resilience Scheme (phase 2) providing support to farmers to help plan for the period ahead with applications opening in June 2021

April 2021 – further information on the Farm Investment FundEquipment & Technology, and transformation offering funding for equipment, technology an infrastructure that improves farm productivity and benefits the environment with application opening December 2021

June 2021 - Details on the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) which will open in part from 2022

July 2021 – further information on the Lump Sum Exit Scheme, subject to consultation.

Throughout 2021- Co-designing of Animal Health and Welfare Pathway – designed to support farmers to produce healthier animals to the very highest standards of welfare

October 2021 – further information on the Innovation Research and Development Scheme

November 2021 – Further information on the New Entrant Support Scheme

For more information from the Farming is Changing booklet


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