Keeping up to date with SPS changes

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CLAIM forms for the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) are due to be sent out shortly and there are various changes to bear in mind, says land and farming consultancy firm Strutt & Parker.

Robert Sullivan, farming consultant in Strutt & Parker’s Morpeth office, said: “Over the last few months the farming press has been full of articles debating the potential implications of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform proposals. Unfortunately, in the short term, further progress on the new support package is expected to be very limited and indeed it may even be the autumn before any more significant announcements are made.

“In the meantime, SPS claims will need to be completed and with the forms due to be sent out at the end of February or early March, it would be useful to consider the following points.”

This year’s booklet will only be a supplement and therefore must be read in conjunction with the 2011 Guidance Notes.

Those transferring SPS entitlements into the farming business to take effect for the 2012 scheme year will need to make sure that the Rural Land & Entitlements (RLE1) form is received by the RPA before the April 2 deadline. Blank forms can be downloaded from the RPA website at www.rpa.defra.gov.uk/rle1. Alternatively, call the RPA customer service centre on 0845 603 7777.

If any changes have been made to field boundaries do remember an RLE1 form (with an accompanying map) must be completed, showing any alterations clearly. This data will be used to update the Rural Land Register (RLR) maps. If this is done now new maps will be issued and the 2012 SP5 form updated with the amended areas.

Any documents that are sent to the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) need to be clearly identifiable by using the holding’s SBI barcode labels.

The supplement for growing protein crops such as peas and field beans ended in 2011. New crop codes will be introduced for 2012 and these must be read carefully in order to avoid potential delays or penalties being applied to your claim.

In the 2012 guidance supplement there will also be additional information on the classification of scrub as an ineligible feature, which may require some changes to the field area on which farmers and landowners can claim.

Entitlements from now on will be activated automatically by use-by date rather than by unit value; as a result in the majority of cases this will mean that it is no longer necessary to submit an SP11 activation form.

It is well worth considering submitting claims through the SPS online service, which is becoming increasingly popular: 31,000 farmers used this method in 2011.

Benefits include on-screen checks, instant proof of receipt, no postage costs or delays and the ability to view and print claim and entitlements statements.

To register for this service, visit www.businesslink.gov.uk/sps-claim.

For further advice and information about how the SPS affects your business. contact the Strutt & Parker farming department on 01670 500871.