Area-Based Schemes Application Process Questions & Answers

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1 Area-Based Schemes Application Process Questions & Answers Version February 2015

2 Area-Based Schemes Application Process 2015 Questions & Answers Version February 2015 Contents Section 1:How to apply to Area-based Schemes in What schemes can I claim on the 2015 Single Application Form? When will I receive my Single Application pack including my Single Application Form (SAF)? Who will receive the SAF packs? If I am not issued a SAF from DARD, can I still apply to area-based schemes in 2015? What will be included in the SAF Pack? Do I have to complete my SAF on paper? What help can I get to complete my SAF? Why should I complete my application online? How do I access the online application service? What will be important to check on my land information? Why should I use emaps to help me make an accurate claim? What are the time limits for submitting the SAF or online application? What are the time limits for submitting supporting evidence required for my Area-Based Scheme claim? Can I change my Single Application Form once I have submitted it to DARD? I will be setting up a new farm business, what do I need to do? What events are available to support claimants in 2015? Page 1 of 39

3 Section 2: The Basic Payment Scheme What are the eligibility criteria for Basic Payment Scheme? What is an Active Farmer? What is an entitlement? What happened to my SFP Entitlements? How do I apply for Basic Payment Scheme entitlements? Do I have to establish entitlements on all the land I farm? What criteria do I need to meet to establish new Basic Payment Scheme entitlements? I lease or let my land out in conacre; can I still claim entitlements on the land? I was farming in 2013 and have never previously held SFP entitlements; can I apply for Basic Payment Scheme entitlements? What criteria would I have to meet to be allocated entitlements from the Regional Reserve? Who can apply for entitlements under Force Majeure/Exceptional Circumstances? How do I apply for the Regional Reserve? What is the Private Contract Clause (PCC)? What is eligible land? I have land which crosses a border, what do I need to do? Section 3: Greening What does greening mean? What action do I need to take to check if I have greening requirements? What is meant by a greening exemption? How can I find out the provisional classification for the fields I am claiming in 2015? Can I change what a field s eligible use history is? What tools are available to help me determine my greening requirements? What is the definition of arable land? What is the definition of permanent grassland? What are the greening requirements for permanent grassland? What is Crop Diversification? What is the definition of a crop? What is an Ecological Focus Area (EFA)? Page 2 of 39

4 44. What does at the disposal of the farmer mean? What farms will have an ecological focus area (EFA) requirement? What features can be used to meet ecological focus areas (EFAs)? How do I notify DARD of my EFA features? Section 4: The Young Farmers Payment What are the eligibility criteria for the Young Farmers Payment? How do I apply for the Young Farmers Payment? What agricultural qualification do I need to have to qualify? What is the definition of a young farmer? What evidence do I need to support my application for Young Farmers Payment? Section 5:Pillar 2 Schemes (Rural Development Programme) What will happen to the Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowances (LFACA) payment? Who will be eligible for the Transitional Payment to Disadvantaged Area Scheme? What will the eligibility conditions for Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) be? Will dual use claims be permitted? Can I still apply for Forestry Grant Scheme? Can I still apply for NI Countryside Management Scheme (NICMS)? Is the Countryside Management Scheme the same as greening? Section 6: Cross-Compliance What is the purpose of Cross-Compliance? Have the Cross-Compliance Standards changed in 2015? Will I still have to adhere to Cross-Compliance in 2015? Which schemes does Cross-Compliance apply to? What do I do if I am not certain of the Cross-Compliance requirements? Who will be held responsible for a Cross-Compliance breach? Section 7: Further Information Where can I access further information on Area-Based Schemes for 2015?.. 39 Page 3 of 39

5 Section 1: How to apply to Area-based Schemes in What schemes can I claim on the 2015 Single Application Form? You can apply for the following area-based schemes on the Single Application Form: Basic Payment Scheme and Greening payment Young Farmers Payment Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme NI Countryside Management Scheme Organic Farming Scheme Farm Woodland Premium Scheme and; Farm Woodland Scheme. 2. When will I receive my Single Application pack including my Single Application Form (SAF)? Your Single Application pack and SAF will be issued late March You will be able to access your online application from 18 March Who will receive the SAF packs? Pre-populated SAF packs will be sent to those who submitted Single Applications in 2014 and who are considered, by us, to be active farmers or who have replied to the active farmer letter issued in September Applicants who previously claimed for Northern Ireland Countryside Management Scheme, Organic Farming Scheme, Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowances Scheme and Forestry Schemes may also receive a SAF. 4. If I am not issued a SAF from DARD, can I still apply to area-based schemes in 2015? Yes, if you believe you are eligible for any of the area-based schemes on the 2015 SAF you can submit an application. There are two methods of applying, you can Page 4 of 39

6 submit your application via our online application service or you can request a paper SAF. For both methods of applying you will have to fill in a blank application. You may find it easier to complete your application online as it offers a number of advantages. For example, as you enter field numbers it will pre-populate information about those fields automatically. You will only have to enter the crop usage code and area claimed per field. It will also indicate if you have a greening requirement and it will calculate and display that requirement. See Question 8 for more information on the advantages of using the online application. To find out how to go online, call us on , text EASY to or go to You can request a blank SAF by calling the Grants and Funding Helpline on: What will be included in the SAF Pack? Your SAF Pack will include: Covering letter SAF 1 SAF 2 (Field Data Sheet) SAF 3 (Field Data Amendment Form) Booklet Notes on how to complete your Single Application Form Booklet Guide to Area-Based Schemes 2015 Other DARD promotional material 6. Do I have to complete my SAF on paper? No, although you may be issued with a paper SAF you may prefer to apply online. See Question 8 for more information on the advantages of applying online. Page 5 of 39

7 7. What help can I get to complete my SAF? You should use the Notes to help you fill in your Single Application Form, which accompanies your SAF. This will help you complete your application accurately and tell you where to get more detailed information if required. You are also being provided with the Guide to Area-based Schemes which will provide you with information about the rules and eligibility criteria of the various areabased schemes. As you are claiming for some of these schemes for the first time in 2015, it is important that you read this information and understand the eligibility requirements of the schemes. Further information is also available on the DARD website: This year, 2015, is a particularly important year as entitlements are being allocated under the Basic Payment Scheme. Mistakes made in 2015 could affect the payment you receive under the Basic Payment Scheme, Greening Payment and Young Farmers Payment in 2015 and future years as well. You are therefore strongly advised to gather your information and supporting evidence early to ensure you meet the deadline for submission of your application. 8. Why should I complete my application online? Completing your application form online is safe and secure. As well as this, the online service offers a number of advantages over the paper form: It s fast and easy to use It provides the most up to date field information It will automatically determine if you have a Greening requirement to meet as part of your application to the Basic Payment Scheme. It features on-screen alerts if you don t answer a question or claim more than we think you should. These simple mistakes can delay payment and result in financial penalties. You avoid having to queue at any DARD office to submit your claim Page 6 of 39

8 It issues you with an instant receipt of your application and a summary of your claim(s). It allows you to track the progress of your application and so avoid having to phone us or call at one of our offices for updates. 9. How do I access the online application service? If you are new to DARD online services you can call us on or text EASY to or go to At the first screen presented, click LOGIN. Next click on I need a Government Gateway account. Follow the directions to register for a Government Gateway account. Once registered, you will be given instructions on how to access our online services, including the Single Application online service. If you are already registered with DARD online services go to At the first screen presented, click LOGIN. At the next screen, enter your Government Gateway User ID and password and then click Log in. From the list of Services, select SAF online to start your application. If you need help, at any stage of the process, please phone us on What will be important to check on my land information? You must make sure that: You declare all the land you are farming on your SAF2 Field Data Sheet. Land which you own but are not farming because it is leased out or let in conacre to another farmer should not normally be declared on your application. Rather it should be declared on the application of the person who is actually farming it. The main exception relates to Agri-Environment schemes where dual claims are still possible under certain circumstances. Page 7 of 39

9 You only claim for eligible land at columns G and H. You latest farm map that we sent you will help do this as it will tell you the maximum eligible area for each of your fields. Do not assume that the maximum eligible area is correct as things may have changed on the ground since DARD s assessment. Based on the eligibility rules, you must make further deductions to your maximum eligible area or areas pre-printed on your 2015 Single Application if you consider other areas in your fields do not meet the eligibility criteria. You should check any areas that have been pre-printed on your SAF 2 Field Data Sheet. You can claim less than the maximum eligible area for a field if there are ineligible areas or you are unsure if the entire field is eligible. You should not claim for more than the maximum eligible area unless you provide an explanation on the LPIS Correction Form and tell us about the change by 15 May If you do not tell us about the change by 15 May 2015, there could be delays validating your 2015 Single Application and making any payments due. If we find more eligible area than you have actually claimed on, reductions or penalties may apply if entire fields containing eligible area have not been declared, or the greening requirements have not been met when the entire eligible area is taken into account. Further information on eligible land can be found in the Guide to Land Eligibility 2015 booklet which will be available from mid February 2015 at: You are advised to read this Guide carefully to make sure that the land you are claiming on is eligible. 11. Why should I use emaps to help me make an accurate claim? emap allows you to view the most up-to-date mapping information held by DARD. You can view field details such as the Maximum Eligible Area (MEA) for any field and can measure lengths and areas, which should assist in ensuring that your claim Page 8 of 39

10 is as accurate as possible. In addition if you wish to amend details of fields such as a boundary position or wish to amend existing or create ineligible features in fields this can also be requested through emap. You can access emap on the DARD Online Services website at: 12. What are the time limits for submitting the SAF or online application? We must receive your completed Single Application Form and any supporting documentation by 15 May Applications received after 15 May 2015 but on or before 9 June 2015 will be accepted but subject to a late claim penalty. Applications received after 9 June 2015 will not be accepted. Be aware that, for 2015, there will be an extra 3% late claim penalty for Basic Payment Scheme on top of the 1% penalty usually applied for late claims. So, we will reduce your payment by 4% for each working day the application is late (except in cases of force majeure or exceptional circumstances). 13. What are the time limits for submitting supporting evidence required for my Area-Based Scheme claim? If you need to submit evidence to support your claim for the Basic Payment Scheme, the Young Farmers Payment or the Regional Reserve, you must also do this by 15 May Evidence received after 15 May 2015 but on or before 9 June will be accepted but may be subject to a late claim penalty. Evidence received after 9 June 2015 will not be accepted. Page 9 of 39

11 14. Can I change my Single Application Form once I have submitted it to DARD? Yes. If, after you have sent us your completed Single Application, you need to make changes, you should complete and return Form SAF3 to tell us about these. You can use the SAF3 Form to increase or reduce the area you have claimed or to withdraw your application. You can amend your application to increase the area you have claimed up until 31 May without penalty. As 31 May is a Sunday, we will accept amendments to increase the area you have claimed on Monday 1 June. If we receive an application to increase the area you have claimed or the value of your claim after 1 June but on or before 9 June, we will reduce your payment, except in cases of force majeure or exceptional circumstances. We will not accept any amendments to your application after 9 June 2015, except in cases of force majeure/exceptional circumstances. You can also correct your application form at any time by removing or reducing areas you have claimed. You should use a SAF 3 to do this. However, if we have already told you about a problem (irregularity) with your application or we have given notice that an on-the-spot-check will be carried out and this check then reveals an irregularity, you will not be able to correct that part of the application affected by the irregularity. 15. I will be setting up a new farm business, what do I need to do? If you are setting up a new farm business, you need to be registered with DARD before your Single Application Form can be processed. To register, you must complete and submit form FB1 in the first instance to allow us to establish whether your business meets the necessary conditions. You can download this form from our website: or get one from your local DARD Direct office. As this registration process can take time, you are strongly advised to apply as early as possible. Page 10 of 39

12 16. What events are available to support claimants in 2015? DARD will be hosting a series of public roadshows during March This will provide you with an opportunity to learn more about the 2015 area-based scheme rules and application process and highlight important information that you need to know to ensure that you make an accurate claim. Dates of the roadshows are listed below and further information on venues will follow shortly: Area DATE Co. Derry/ Londonderry 10 March 2015 Co. Down 12 March 2015 Co. Tyrone 19 March 2015 Co. Fermanagh 24 March 2015 Co. Antrim 26 March 2015 Co. Armagh 31 March 2015 Co. Tyrone 2 April 2015 Further information on CAP reform and the area-based schemes for 2015 is available on the DARD website on: Page 11 of 39

13 Section 2: The Basic Payment Scheme 17. What are the eligibility criteria for Basic Payment Scheme? Many aspects of the Basic Payment Scheme will be similar to that of the Single Farm Payment Scheme. To be eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme you must: be an active farmer have at least 3 hectares of eligible land at your disposal on 15 May 2015 be eligible to establish at least 3 entitlements. 18. What is an Active Farmer? To be allocated payment entitlements under the Basic Payment Scheme, you must be able to demonstrate that you enjoy the decision making power, benefits and financial risks in relation to the agricultural activity on each parcel of land for which such allocation of entitlements is requested. This assessment is based on all agricultural activity carried out on the land throughout You must fulfill all three elements decision making power, benefits and financial risks must be fulfilled by the applicant. This means that in 2015, unless there are exceptional circumstances, landowners renting out land in conacre will not be able to establish entitlements on that land. The principle being that the farmer who is actively farming the land will be the one claiming direct payments on the land. The Department will carefully assess each application received to consider whether the active farmer requirements have been met. The assessment of whether an applicant meets the active farmer requirements will be based on individual circumstances. No decisions will be taken in advance of applications being submitted and no blanket exclusions will apply. Where there is any doubt as to whether the active farmer requirements have been met, further evidence will be requested. The outcome in each case will depend on Page 12 of 39

14 the evidence submitted which demonstrates what is happening in practice and the onus will be on you as the applicant to prove you are eligible to be allocated BPS entitlements. Click on the link below to view more frequently asked questions about the active farmer requirement: 19. What is an entitlement? As with SFP, entitlements form the basis of the Basic Payment Scheme and access to the Basic Payment Scheme will depend on the number of payment entitlements that a farm business holds. Each entitlement will have a value and you will be able to receive a payment equal to that value when you claim one hectare of eligible land. You must submit a SAF to establish new payment entitlements in 2015 under the Basic Payment Scheme. Once you have been allocated entitlements in 2015, you will have to use these to activate payment for Basic Payment Scheme and greening and if appropriate, Young Farmers payment in future years. It is therefore very important that you apply to be allocated entitlements in See Question 12 for information on how you can apply for Basic Payment Scheme entitlements. 20. What happened to my SFP Entitlements? If you held SFP entitlements in 2014 they were cancelled at the end of December Therefore, if you want to claim Basic Payment Scheme, you must apply to establish entitlements for the Basic Payment Scheme in Page 13 of 39

15 21. How do I apply for Basic Payment Scheme entitlements? If you wish to establish Basic Payment Scheme entitlements, you must apply to establish them on the 2015 Single Application Form. The number of entitlements that you will be allocated will be equal to the number of eligible hectares you declare in In some circumstances you may also need to submit additional application forms. Please see Question 23 below. 22. Do I have to establish entitlements on all the land I farm? Yes. For the Basic Payment Scheme, you should establish entitlements and claim all the eligible land you are farming in 2015 and which you are sure is eligible. You should not establish entitlements or claim on land where there is doubt about its eligibility. For the purposes of the Basic Payment Scheme and related payments, eligible land is defined as any agricultural area of the holding that is used for an agricultural activity. Land which you own but are not farming because it is leased out or let in conacre to another farmer should not normally be declared on your application. Rather it should be declared on the application of the person who is actually farming it. It is important to know that entitlements are attached to the person/business and not the piece of land. This means that the land you have used to establish Basic Payment Scheme entitlements in 2015 may be different to the land that you activate your entitlements against in future years. Page 14 of 39

16 23. What criteria do I need to meet to establish new Basic Payment Scheme entitlements? To establish new entitlements in 2015 you must meet the following criteria: you were in receipt of SFP in 2013 scheme year (prior to the application of penalties) enabling you to activate at least 100 of payment entitlements you are an active farmer you have at least 3 hectares of eligible land at your disposal on 15 May 2015 (this land must also be eligible throughout the calendar year) If you do not meet thefirst of these criteria there are alternative ways to establish entitlements. This may be: through the regional reserve (as a new entrant or young farmer or under force majeure/exceptional circumstance) you will need to submit an additional application form; or through the private contract clause you will need to submit an additional application form; or if you never held SFP entitlements and can provide verifiable evidence of production activity that you were undertaking on 15 May 2013 you should complete Question 2 on the Single Application Form 24. I lease or let my land out in conacre; can I still claim entitlements on the land? The person who is leasing the land or taking the land in conacre is farming the land and will be the one eligible to establish and claim payments on this land in unless there are exceptional circumstances that enable you to demonstrate that you enjoy the decision making power, benefits and fininancial risks in relation to the agricultural activity carried out on this land. This will be difficult to demonstrate as normally when land is let out in conacre, the landowner receives a rent in return for the farmer obtaining the benefits of the agricultural activity which they (the farmer) carry out. Page 15 of 39

17 25. I was farming in 2013 and have never previously held SFP entitlements; can I apply for Basic Payment Scheme entitlements? Yes. If you have never held SFP entitlements in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and are not eligible for the Regional Reserve, but were farming on 15 May 2013, you may be able to establish Basic Payment Scheme entitlements if you can provide verifiable evidence of the production activity that you were undertaking on 15 May To apply to establish entitlements in this way you should answer yes at question 2 on the 2015 SAF. You should indicate whether you had a beef, dairy or sheep enterprise on 15 May DARD will cross check this information against its records to ensure that you had animals in your herd or flock on 15 May If you did not have a herd or flock you will need to provide documentary evidence which could include: seed receipts, sales receipts, evidence of belonging to a quality assurance scheme, agronomist reports or other relevant documentation. 26. What criteria would I have to meet to be allocated entitlements from the Regional Reserve? Entitlements can be allocated to the following groups under the Regional Reserve. Young Farmers - must have a level II qualification in agriculture - be no more than 40 years of age in the year in which they first apply to the Basic Payment Scheme - be setting up for the first time, an agricultural holding as head of the business or have already done so in the preceding five years, i.e. on or after 1 January New entrants - must have a level II qualification in agriculture - have commenced their agricultural activity in the 2013 calendar year, or any later year Page 16 of 39

18 - have submitted an application to BSP and Regional Reserve not later than two years after the calendar year in which they commenced their agricultural activity - not have had agricultural activity in their own name and at their own risk or did not have control of the business exercising an agricultural activity in the five calendar years preceding the start of their agricultural activity. Force Majeure - See Question 27 for more information regarding Force Majeure/exceptional circumstances. 27. Who can apply for entitlements under Force Majeure/Exceptional Circumstances? If you were prevented from being allocated payment entitlements as a result of force majeure or exceptional circumstances you may be given an allocation of payment entitlements, or have the value of existing payment entitlements increased to the regional average, from the Regional Reserve. Force majeure or exceptional circumstances is defined as unusual circumstances, outside the control of the trader, the consequences of which, in spite of the exercise of all due care, could not have been avoided except at the cost of excessive sacrifice. 28. How do I apply for the Regional Reserve? You must complete and sign the Regional Reserve application form (RR 2) and take it to your local DARD Direct office along with your identity evidence and any other supporting evidence that s required to support your application. You must provide the appropriate supporting evidence, required under the category you are applying for. Also, it is important that you complete all relevant sections of the form (RR 2), as an incomplete form will delay processing or may invalidate your Page 17 of 39

19 application. The RR 2 form is supplementary to your Single Application Form (SAF) and therefore those applying to the Regional Reserve as young farmers or new entrants must also complete and return a SAF as well. Completed application forms and supporting evidence should be received by DARD by 15 May What is the Private Contract Clause (PCC)? You could acquire the right to an initial allocation of entitlements via a PCC. A PCC of this type would allocate the right to establish Basic Payment Scheme entitlements to you from another farmer who has leased or sold his land to you. An additional application form will need to be completed if you wish to establish entitlements this way. There is also a second type of PCC which can be used by those who have bought land and wish to take the value of the SFP entitlements/pot as well. Again, a separate application form will need to be completed. More detailed guidance and application forms are available on the DARD website or from your local DARD Direct office. 30. What is eligible land? Eligible land under the Basic Payment Scheme is similar to that of Single Farm Payment (SFP) Scheme and includes any land that is used for permanent grassland, arable crops or permanentland. This land must be at your disposal on 15 May 2015 and must also be eligible throughout the calendar year. Detailed information on land issues can be found in the booklet Guide to Land Eligibility 2015 which will be available on the DARD website from late February Page 18 of 39

20 31. I have land which crosses a border, what do I need to do? A cross-border holding is where you have land in more than one region of the United Kingdom, which is managed as a single farm business. This will affect the way you claim Basic Payment Scheme, because the schemes in Scotland, Wales and England are managed differently from Northern Ireland. To make a cross border claim, you need to complete a Basic Payment Scheme application for each country where you have land, then send it to the paying agency for that land. If our records show that you are an existing cross-border holding, you will receive specific guidance which will explain how Basic Payment Scheme will be managed. If you have not received this booklet, you should refer to the guidance booklet for cross border holdings which will be published on the DARD website. Page 19 of 39

21 Section 3: Greening 32. What does greening mean? It is mandatory for applicants to the Basic Payment Scheme to comply with greening arrangements. In return for this, you will receive a Greening Payment calculated as a percentage of the value of the Basic Payment Scheme payment entitlements activated by you each year. The greening requirements cover: Permanent Grassland; Crop Diversification; and Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs). Further information on each of these is available on the DARD website at: 33. What action do I need to take to check if I have greening requirements? To check if you do have greening requirements you should take the following steps: Identify your Field Classifications (arable, permanent grassland, permanent grassland sensitive, permanent crops) on all eligible land that you are farming in 2015; Check if any of the greening exemptions apply to you; and Identify the greening measures you need to comply with. 34. What is meant by a greening exemption? There are a number of exemptions which will mean that certain applicants, depending upon their land use, will not have to undertake greening requirements but Page 20 of 39

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