Entitlements: don’t lose them!

Tom Wills examines some of the CAP information recently released by Defra.

One of the highlights of a recently attended children’s Halloween party was the “Pinata”. For those of you not right on children’s trends, this is a papier mache object filled with sweets, which the participants beat with a stick. As it breaks apart, so it slowly disgorges its sweet treasures. As I watched the little dears bash it as hard as they could, I was reminded of Defra and the way it releases nuggets of information on the new CAP, little bit by precious little bit.

The latest offering was extracted at the end of October and revealed some interesting ways to lose all or part of your BPS entitlements if you are not careful. The most likely time to lose entitlements will be the first year of operation ie May 2015.

We were all aware of the “Active Farmer” issue and most of the issues have now been clarified. As it stands, the definition should affect very few farmers, but there are always some. Every BPS claimant will need to declare that they are Active Farmers for the entire claim period. If this is found not to be the case, they will be deemed to be ineligible for BPS that claim year. There are special rules applying in 2015, so if they fail the test in the first year, they will lose not just their 2015 BPS, but their BPS entitlements.

You may well have read that land containing solar panels will not be eligible for BPS, even though the land was eligible for SPS. This may mean that affected farmers will be holding more entitlements than they have land to activate. In 2015, such excess entitlements will be lost. This also applies to entitlements that are leased. This is very much worth keeping an eye on if you own entitlements and lease them out. Also bear in mind that if the person that you lease the entitlements to turns out not to be an “Active Farmer”, the entitlements will be lost.

People who currently hold entitlements, but are unable to activate them in 2015, will simply lose them if they do nothing before May 2015. This could apply to those who do not qualify as “Active Farmers” and also those with less than 5ha.

As the farming industry continues to beat Defra, so it will release a little more information, but it is already clear that extra care will need to be taken in the run up to 15th May 2015 if you are to retain all your entitlements.

If you would like any further information or to discuss any rural related matter, please contact Tom Wills, head of the agriculture & estates department at Sintons.

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