New rules affecting farmers’ payments outlined at Stoke Ferry society

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The rules of the new Basic Payment Scheme and its implications for farmers were outlined to members of the Stoke Ferry Agricultural Society.

The talk given last week to the society by Nigel Simpson, from Catchment Sensitive farming, coincided with the Rural Payments Agency announcing that more than a quarter of eligible farm businesses in England have registered on the new online Rural Payments service for Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) 2015, which has also formally declared that registration is now open to all farmers and landowners who wish to claim.

Up until now, the service has been introduced gradually to customers, starting with small groups at a time, making sure that what customers can do on the service and how they register for it, is working well.

January saw a significant ramping up of the numbers being invited to get online, according to the RPA, and the latest figures released last week show that nearly 21,000 customers and agents had registered representing more than 22,500 farm businesses. The overwhelming majority of these had confirmed their business details and issued the correct permissions for others to act on their behalf.

Last Tuesday Mr Simpson, gave a detailed talk to Stoke Ferry Agricultural Society members explaining the scheme and cross compliance.

He covered topics including how to register, follow cross compliance rules, breaches, record keeping, nitrate vunerable zones, plant protection products, Protection Zones next to ditches and hedges and soil protection.

He said that there was a lot of information available, both printed and via other organisations, including the Farming Advice Service and agents. He recommended documents from DEFRA and the RPA to read, including The Guide to Cross Compliance 2015, The New CAP Scheme in England: August and December updates.

The message he gave was that when farmers sign the documents and take the money, they must abide by the rules or suffer the consequences.

The next meeting of the society is on Tuesday, March 3, at Ryston Park Golf Club, when a talk on deer farming will be given by Julian Stoyles, deer park manager at Houghton Hall. New members are welcome to attend.

The society’s annual dinner is being held on Friday, March 13, at Downham Town Hall. For more information or to buy tickets please contact Nick Martin on 07809 270757 by the end of February.