Wales – BPS Changes for 2021
Welsh Government have recently announced changes to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and the Rural Development Programme (RDP) for 2021 following the Simplifying Agricultural Support Consultation earlier this year. These changes are intended to simplify the two schemes ahead of the introduction of the Sustainable Farming Scheme under legislation to be brought forward after the Senedd elections in May 2021. Legislation for the announced changes will be brought forward so they are implemented for 2021.
There were 11 proposals set out in the consultation in relation to the Basic Payment Scheme. Of these, 8 proposals received general support and are being taken forward:
- Only Welsh land will be taken into account for calculating BPS claims with the same minimum claim area of 5 ha. However, there will be a derogation allowing farmers with less than 5 ha of Welsh land to rely on the land they had available in another part of the UK in 2020 to remain eligible.
- The negative list test for ‘active farmer’ will be abolished. This follows the rest of the UK, however checks will remain on minimum activity.
- Crop diversification is removed from greening. However, permanent grassland provisions remain and arable farmers with sufficient arable land will still need to provide EFAs.
- Supporting documentation for applications can be submitted up to 31st December in a claim year, although it’s important to note no payment will be made until all documentation has been received.
- Claims will no longer have to be fully validated before RPW makes an advance payment of 70 per cent of the anticipated claim value. The advance would be made automatically to all BPS claimants in October every year, subject to basic eligibility checks. The balance payment would then be made within the payment window once full validation checks are completed.
- Inspections will now be based on an overall 3 per cent sample of the full combined scheme population, rather than up to 5 per cent of individual and separate schemes.
- Where there is an over-declaration of land, the ‘Yellow Card’ will be able to apply more than once for a scheme. There would no longer be the requirement to repay the Yellow Card (the remaining 50 per cent) if there is an over declaration in the following year.
- Welsh Ministers will set the BPS financial ceiling and then calculate changes in payment values as increases or reductions from 2020.
However, there are three proposals from the consultation that are not being taken up currently. This means that:
- The Young Farmers Scheme will remain open for applications.
- No new category will be added to the National Reserve (one proposal was where land was bought or leased for more than 5 years).
- Hemp remains an eligible crop code for BPS, able to activate entitlements (although very little use has been made of this practice).
All 5 of the Rural Development Programme proposals are being taken forward, although these were more concerned with higher level policy management than applications or agreements.
If you have any questions in relation to the above, please contact Katie Davies or Ellie Watkins who will be happy to help.