Farmers looking to claim farm payments later this decade may need to ensure they were actively farming last year (2011) in order to secure future payments under any reformed scheme.
That’s the view of Iain Nott, a senior associate in the rural division of Carter Jonas in Peterborough, following his latest reading of proposed changes to the Single Farm Payment (SFP) scheme which are set against the backdrop of the ongoing, general reform of the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
He explains: “The current system and all its entitlements will be swept away, with a fresh calculation on land brought forward in the first year of the new scheme. Originally, this was supposed to be next year (2013) but looks more likely to be 2014 or even 2015.”
Although the new farm payments will be calculated by reference to the amount of land actively farmed, it is likely that the payments will reduce, with more positive environmental works also being undertaken as a condition of the new payment.
While acknowledging that for the majority of ongoing active farmers the new system for claiming payments may not prove too problematic, Carter Jonas highlights that for those looking to retire in the coming two to three years, as well as those investors coming into farming this year or next, ensuring that the active farmer status is transferred to those new entrants is crucial to securing payments post-reform.
Iain Nott continues: “Making arrangements to future-proof against changes to farm payment reforms is important to securing future income. While payment is made against the land, the 2011 status of the person making that claim is crucial to ensuring the payment.
“There are a number of agreement options but the importance of enshrining a contractual relationship with a tenant, contractor or owner with active farmer status in 2011, in whatever form, is imperative ahead of making any payment claim in the first year post-reform.”