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Basic Payment Scheme 2017

Under the Basic Payment Scheme, eligible applicants receive a payment under the BPS and Greening. Applicants should familiarise themselves with all terms and conditions of the Basic Payment Scheme and its eligibility criteria as well as those for Greening and other measures.

Eligibility of Forestry for Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)

Eligible land that was declared in an SPS application in 2008 and which was afforested in any year since 2009 or which will be planted in 2017 can continue to be eligible for an BPS payment in 2017 provided it satisfies a number of conditions including the following:

  • The land to be planted was declared on a 2008 SPS application.
  • The declared land was eligible for SPS in 2008.
  • The applicant who declared that land was paid under the 2008 SPS.
  • Applicants, who plant part of their holding from 2009 onwards must retain at least 10% of the eligible hectares declared in 2008 (by themselves or their predecessor) in an agricultural activity, subject to a minimum area of 3 hectares, in order to continue to be regarded as an active farmer for the purpose of retaining eligibility for BPS.
  • If the applicant is a new entrant to farming, the minimum area to be retained in an agricultural activity will be fixed by the Department on a case by case basis.
  • Applicants who wish to benefit from the BPS on afforested land must continue to be an active farmer, as defined, and also be the person or persons in joint management or receipt of the afforestation premium. This applies to members of the same family. The BPS applicant’s name should appear on both the herd number and forestry contract number.
  • Afforested land must continue to meet all requirements of the relevant Forest Service scheme under which it was afforested.

When filling the BPS application, the status of forestry parcels must be accurately reflected in terms of Parcel Use on the back of the form.

The table below provides a summary of the BPS application requirements for applicants with forestry parcels which will vary according to the timing of their forest establishment.

Timing of Forest Establishment Input on BPS form (Parcel Use) 
Parcels planted before 2009 Forestry
Eligible parcels planted in between 2009 and 2016 (inclusive) Forestry Eligible
Eligible Parcels planted or in the process of being planted in 2017 before BPS deadline of 15 May Forestry 2017
Parcels to be planted in 2017 but not yet started at the date of BPS form submission Accurate parcel use as of date of BPS form submission
For such parcels, planted after the date of BPS form submission: an amendment form must be submitted Input Forestry 2017 as parcel use on amendment form

Applicants in receipt of payments under the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme are required to declare all land parcels on their holding in their 2017 BPS application form.

If submitting a BPS application online it should be borne in mind that any land displayed as Forestry Eligible on the parcel list online, if amended for any reason, cannot be changed back to Forestry Eligible online. It will be necessary to write to the Department requesting this change.

A range of other BPS issues with forestry relevance may arise, some of which are listed below:

  • Eligible Forestry parcels declared on BPS applications to activate entitlements will also be subject to cross-compliance requirements.
  • Areas under Foliage Crops are eligible for the BPS (Parcel Use Foliage).
  • Areas under Short Rotation Coppice are eligible for the BPS (Parcel Use Short rotation Coppice).
  • Areas under Energy Crops such as willow and miscanthus are eligible for the BPS (Parcel Use Willow or Miscanthus Sinensis as appropriate).
  • Areas under Christmas Trees are not eligible for the BPS.
  • Areas unplanted under ESB lines may be eligible for BPS provided (a) it has proper access, (b) it is fenced, (c) it has a water supply and (d) an agricultural activity is being carried out on it by the applicant.
  • Land acquired (through purchase or inheritance) can be planted and considered eligible for an BPS payment provided it satisfies all of the eligibility criteria outlined on page 1.
  • Where land was planted and entitlements consolidated in the past, it is no longer necessary to continue farming the remaining land for a five year period.
  • All entitlements allocated under BPS and the National Reserve are subject to a two year usage rule. Any entitlement that remains unused for two consecutive years will revert to the National Reserve. The rotation of entitlements that was available under SPS will not be available under BPS.

Greening

All farmers eligible for payment under the BPS are subject to greening. However, over 90% of applicants will automatically qualify for the Greening Payment on the basis of their current farming practices (e.g. more than 75% permanent pasture). In broad terms, it is the arable sector that will have greening obligations.  Arable farmers should be aware of their obligations, relevant greening area calculations and should also be aware of any exemptions that may apply in their situations in relation to greening obligations. For example if an applicant has more than 15 hectares of eligible arable land, 5% of this area must be in Ecological Focus Area (EFA).

Both BPS eligible forestry and Short Rotation coppice are reckonable as Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs). For forestry to be eligible, ensure it satisfies the eligibility requirements under the Basic Payment Scheme. Each hectare of eligible forestry is equal to 1.0 hectares of EFA. Each hectare of Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) can be deemed equivalent to 0.3 hectares of EFA. Short Rotation Coppice and BPS eligible afforested land can both be located on any agricultural land on a holding, i.e.: they do not have to be located on arable land but must be within the applicants holding.

Short Rotation Coppice is classified as a permanent crop under EU regulations. Therefore, while the area is not classified as arable land, the area under SRC may be taken into account when initially calculating the 5% EFA requirement (if the SRC is declared as an EFA area). BPS eligible forestry is also used to calculate the 5% EFA requirement if declared as an EFA area.

Field copses are areas of trees/scrub that, to be eligible as an EFA, must be in or adjacent to an arable parcel and cannot be greater than 0.3 hectares, A field Copse greater than 0.3 hectares does not qualify as an EFA area. To qualify as a Field Copse an area must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be adjacent to or within the arable land and be declared by the claimant.
  • Must contain trees and/or scrub.
  • The area must have a separate LPIS number and be declared as ‘Copse’. A copse is not eligible for payment under the BPS and/or Area of Natural Constraint (ANC).
  • It cannot be removed by the claimant in the year in which they are being claimed for EFA purposes.
  • A copse greater than 0.3 hectares (digitised area) does not qualify as an EFA.

DAFM Greening queries:  076 1064441 or Greening@agriculture.gov.ie.

Additional important Questions and Answers:

  1. Question: Where a farmer who has previously planted up to almost 50% of his/her holding and stacked his/her entitlements (pre 2009), can (s)he now plant more of his/her holding?
    Answer: Yes. (S)he can plant additional land subject to retaining at least 10% (min 3 ha) of eligible hectares declared in 2008 as forage and actively farm this retained forage area.
  2. Question: Can an applicant who buys forested land that meet all the requirements to be BPS-eligible (referred to in Page 1) use this forestry to activate purchased entitlements?
    Answer:  Yes, provided all eligibility requirements are met, the forestry contract number is in the name of the applicant and the applicant is eligible for forest premium payment in the BPS scheme year in question. 
  3. Question: Can a farmer who owns land and entitlements plant the owned land and claim entitlements on land (s)he might rent/lease in?
    Answer: Yes.

March 2017