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2024 BISS applications for New Registered Farm Partnerships

2024 BISS applications for New Registered Farm Partnerships

Ruth Fennell, Collaborative Farming Specialist, outlines the process and considerations for registering a new farm partnership, focusing on steps for the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) application.

Registered farm partnerships have been operating in Ireland since 2002, when Milk Production Partnerships were initially introduced.  The model has developed over the years and now encompasses all mainstream agricultural enterprises, not just dairying.  The vast majority of registered farm partnership are between family members and are commonly used as a transitional arrangement to gradually introduce the successor to the family farm.

At this time of year, we often get questions about the required procedures that one needs to adhered to when completing a BISS application when they have recently moved to a new registered farm partnership.  So far in 2024, over 400 applications have been received by the Department of Agriculture’s Partnership Office to form new partnerships and there are currently 3,839 farm partnerships on the live register. 

It is possible to submit an application to form a registered farm partnership throughout the entire year but the vast majority are submitted early in the year so that the BISS application for that year is submitted under the new entity.  The Department of Agriculture made a commitment that applications that were received by the 9th of February 2024, where all the required documentation was included, would receive their partnership number in advance of the BISS closing date, the 15th of May.  Currently, the partnerships office is making good progress processing applications and are currently dealing with those received up to the 7th of February.  It is important to note that applications that are incomplete cannot be issued a partnership number.  The email address that was provided for the partnership application will be notified of outstanding issues and it is important that these are followed up in a timely manner.  Where requests for outstanding information are not responded to, the application will be rejected.   Where the herd owners are participating in any other Department of Agriculture schemes e.g. ACRES, organics, SCEP etc. it is important to notify the relevant department and request prior approval to transfer the application to the new entity before making changes to the herd number.

Once the new partnership number has been issued it is important to notify your agricultural consultant so that they can complete the relevant Authorisation form so they have access to complete your online BISS application.  For those of you that don’t receive your partnership number before the BISS closing date, the application should still be submitted online before the 15th of May but it will need to be done through a reference number (“my client with no herd number”).  This facility to complete an application under a reference number is not expected to be available until the end of April. 

Farm partnerships may consist of a single herd number or multiple herd numbers (maximum of 10).  Generally, from a livestock viewpoint, where there are multiple herd numbers, one herd number will be made the dominant herd number while the others will be made dormant (BUT NOT END DATED) so that all the livestock are maintained in the one herd number.  For a single herd number partnership, all the land is declared on the BISS application under the herd number of the partnership application.  If there has been any changes to the herd owner from the previous year’s application (name added or changed on the herd number) then a corresponding transfer of entitlements must be completed.  The method of transfer is generally a change of registration details.  If the applicant is a participant under ACRES it is important that the parcels are declared with the appropriate crop type that corresponds with your ACRES plan. 

Where the partnership consists of more than one herd number, the BISS application is completed under the partnership number but each herd owner declares his/her own land and entitlements under their own herd number. It is important to check that each herd number has sufficient land declared to draw down their own entitlements.  As in the case of the single herd number partnership, for those participating in ACRES it is important that the crop type reflects the actions outlined in the ACRES plan.  The requirement to meet the minimum stocking rate necessary for ANC, the crop type for the tillage crop diversification and the space for nature for GAEC 8 is addressed at a partnership level rather than at an individual herd level when in a registered farm partnership. 

New partnerships that have a young trained farmer as a member of the partnership, may want to complete an application for the National reserve and the complementary income support for young farmers scheme.  Even if they were previously participating in these schemes before moving to the partnership, an application will need to be completed as it is unlikely that the slider button will be available to the new entity.  The National Reserve is limited to one successful allocation per HERD number and the CISYF is paid for a maximum of five years

It is important that before any changes are made to the management structure of your farming enterprise, you discuss the possible implications with your solicitor and accountant.  You may also contact your Teagasc advisor for further assistance.