In this month's Ask the Experts column, Clare Williams, Associate in the Llanidloes office is asked:
Q. I’ve recently taken on more land in England, is it worth me buying entitlements if BPS is going?
A. In short, yes. The cost of non-SDA entitlements varies between £110-140 per hectare. Given that past payment rates have been around £230 per hectare, this means you’ll make a profit on your investment in the first year (subject to having eligible land).
But it’s also worth thinking about future schemes and how they will be paid. Although we don’t have any concrete plans, it looks as if BPS payments from 2021 to 2027 will be phased out and reduce each year. However, payments will be de-linked, meaning that it won’t depend on your number of acres and the payments you’ll receive in the future may be based on a reference year. That reference year is yet to be decided but if it is based on 2020 BPS Payments then it will be worth your while making sure you’ve maximised your BPS claim as far as possible. You can do this by ensuring you’re claiming on all your eligible land and have enough entitlements to match the hectares you’re claiming. De-linking the payments from the land will mean your claim form may look a lot different too. There may be no need to declare land parcels or no need for entitlements, or you may not need to be an eligible farmer, who knows?
There is still a lot of information yet to be decided or announced so planning ahead can be difficult and we understand this. Now is a good time to consider entering the Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier scheme which can provide you with some certainty for the five year term. Conveniently, agreements starting 1 January 2021 will also allow you to end the scheme early if the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) looks like a better prospect for your farm in the future.
Please get in touch with us for help with knowing which grant schemes to apply for and the whole application process.