The Rural Payments Agency has announced that the application window for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and the claim window for Countryside Stewardships (CS) and Environmental Stewardships (ES) agreements has opened. Farmers have been urged to submit claims and applications as soon as possible.
Basic Payment Scheme
Last year’s change to the BPS payment cycle will continue this year, with advance payments of around 50% of the total being made from the start of August 2023. Direct Payments, currently paid through BPS, are being steadily phased out through to 2027 as the government introduces the Environmental Land Management schemes. As part of this process, BPS will be replaced with delinked payments based on a farmer’s average BPS payments for the 2020 to 2022 scheme years. The payments will be reduced each year as they are phased out. Farmers must claim and be eligible for BPS payments in the 2023 scheme year to receive delinked payments for 2024 to 2027.
Cross compliance will end after the 2023 scheme year and will not apply to delinked payments, although the vast majority of strong legal standards for the environment and animal health and welfare will continue and the government says that these will be enforced in a fair and proportionate way.
Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship
For 2023, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has supplemented the existing online claim process for CS with a more straightforward annual declaration option in cases where no changes are required. This will be available in the Rural Payments service, with farmers able to generate and submit an automated revenue claim without needing to complete each section of the claim form. All farmers must submit a claim or annual declaration for CS and ES to receive payment for works carried out in 2023.
Chief executive of the Rural Payments Agency, Paul Caldwell, said: “I know the importance of cashflow to rural businesses at this time. I am pleased that we have continued to achieve a strong performance to help farmers deliver sustainable food production alongside environmental actions to enhance and support nature.
“I encourage all eligible farmers to submit their applications and claims as soon as possible to ensure that no one misses out.”
The government says that all money from reduced BPS payments are being invested into the sector through ongoing payments and one-off grants under the Environmental Land Management schemes. In January, the government set out detailed plans on the improved and expanded Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and Countryside Stewardship, as well as increased payment rates through Countryside Stewardship and a new SFI Management Payment worth up to £1,000 to help manage costs.