DEFRA and the RPA have confirmed to the CAAV that the ‘active farmer’ rule no longer applies in England from BPS 2018 onwards. This is as a result of the the agricultural section of the EU Omnibus Regulation agreed late last year which gave Member States the option of dropping the ‘active farmer’ rule from BPS 2018.
What Does This Mean?
This means that the negative list of activities (airports, railway services, waterworks, real estate services, permanent sport and recreational grounds) no longer applies.
The readmission routes (36 ha eligible land or the income tests) are no longer relevant and supporting evidence is not required.
Please be aware however, that BPS claimants do still need to meet the ‘farmer’ requirement that has always been a rule under the Single Payment Scheme and BPS. To be a ‘farmer’ they must be carrying out an ‘agricultural activity’, which means they must either be carrying out agricultural production or maintaining land in a state suitable for grazing or mowing.
The RPA’s BPS 2018 Scheme Rules guidance will confirm the ‘active farmer’ rule has been dropped and will be published on the BPS 2018 GOV.UK page before the BPS 2018 application window opens in “mid-March” (the date for this has yet to be confirmed).
Please note that for BPS 2018 applications the ‘active farmer’ declaration will still need to be completed because the decision to drop the ‘active farmer’ rule was made too late to allow the RPA’s IT system to be changed, so that is the only way that the IT system will allow a BPS 2018 application to be submitted online. Therefore, on question 1 of the ‘active farmer declaration’ which says: “Do you operate one or more of the following non-agricultural activities?” all BPS claimants will need to click on “No – I qualify as an active farmer”.
It is understood that Wales and Scotland will not be taking up this option for BPS 2018 so the ‘active farmer’ rule will still apply for Welsh and Scottish BPS applicants.
For further information or if you have any questions about your 2018 BPS application please contact a member of our Farm Business team: