THE BASIC PAYMENT SCHEME (BPS)
The Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) was introduced in 2015 as part of the new measures agreed in the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. The Basic Payment Scheme has replaced the Single Payment Scheme (SPS). All entitlements held under SPS expired on the 31 December 2014. A new set of entitlements will be allocated in 2015 to those eligible for an allocation under the BPS.
A provisional statement of entitlements has already issued to all entitlement holders. As direct payments from 2015 may take the form of four distinct schemes, the payment that a farmer receives under the new Direct Payment system is no longer a ‘single payment’ but may be a combination of payment under four separate schemes:
- Basic Payment Scheme
- Greening Payment (Payment for Agricultural Practices beneficial for the Climate and the Environment)
- Young Farmers Scheme
- Aid for Protein Crops (Peas, Beans, Lupins)
All eligible farmers will receive a payment under the BPS and a Greening Payment while some farmers may also qualify for a further payment under the Young Farmers Scheme or under the Aid for Protein Crops Scheme. A very significant percentage of the National Ceiling (30%) is allocated to Greening Payments each year and all farmers who participate in the BPS must also implement the Greening provisions. However, over 90% of applicants will automatically qualify for the Greening Payment on the basis of their current farming practices. The remainder will have to undertake specific measures to qualify for the Greening Payment. In practice, for the vast majority of applicants under the BPS, the main payment will amount to 70% of the overall amount payable and the remaining 30% will be the Greening Payment.
The Young Farmers Scheme will be used to provide an additional payment to any person who qualifies as a ‘young farmer’. It is available to successful applicants for a maximum period of five years depending on the year of commencement of farming.
The overall principles of the agreed cap reform package are as follows:
- Overall national budget for the single farm payment reduced to €1,217m in 2014 from €1,230m (net of modulation) in 2013.
- Up to 2% of national ceiling to be used for young farmers‟ scheme.
- Up to 3% of basic payment ceiling to be used for the national reserve.
- Financial discipline: linear cuts on payments above €2,000 to avoid breaches of the financial sub-ceiling and/or to finance the new crisis reserve.
- Minimum requirements: farmers whose direct payments are less than €100, or whose eligible area is less than one hectare, will not be granted direct payments. However, member states may adjust these thresholds.
- Degressivity: mandatory reduction of at least 5% to be applied to basic payment scheme payments in excess of €150,000 (net of salaries and taxes/social contributions). Exemption for member states using more than 5% of annual national ceiling for redistributive payment.
- flexibility between pillars: member states may transfer up to 15% of pillar 1 (direct payments) funds to pillar 2 (rural development), and vice versa, annually. Member states with direct payments per hectare less than 90% of eu average may transfer up to 25% from pillar 2 to pillar 1 annually.
- Funds transferred from pillar 1 to pillar 2 will not be subject to co-financing. Provision made for member state review.
- Partnerships: option for member states to apply direct payments provisions (including financial discipline, capping/degression, redistributive payment and coupled support) at individual farmer level where national law provides for the individual members to assume rights and obligations comparable to those of individual farmers who have the status of head of holding.
Redistribution of direct payments- partial convergence:
Farmers with payments below 90% of the national average payment per hectare have their payments raised by at least one-third of the difference between their current payment and 90% of the national average. Convergence is to take place in equal steps from 2015. This is financed by reductions to payments above the national average payment per hectare. Minimum payment of 60% of national/regional average payment per hectare. Optional maximum 30% loss on 2015 initial unit value (not 2014 payment) on convergence. Member States will have flexibility on how payment reductions are applied to those above the average.
30% “variable‟ greening (some 30% of a farmer‟s total individual payment, i.e. bps + greening, rather than a flat rate).
As an add-on to either the partial convergence models, an optional redistributive payment, on up to 30 hectares or the national average farm size, if higher. This payment shall be no higher than 65% of the national or regional average value of payment entitlement.
Only farmers paid in 2013 can be automatically allocated new entitlements in 2015, provided they submit an application. The number of entitlements to be allocated to be equal to the number of eligible hectares declared in 2015. However, a member state may decide that the number of entitlements to be allocated will be equal to the number of eligible hectares declared by the farmer in either 2013 or 2015, whichever is lower. Member states may apply a reduction coefficient to the number of eligible hectares in respect of permanent grassland located in mountainous areas, in areas subject to natural constraints such as poor soil quality, steepness and water supply, and in areas where grasses are traditionally not predominant. Land afforested since 2008 continues to be eligible.
The initial unit value of payment entitlements in 2015 is based on a fixed percentage of the payments received by the farmer in 2014 divided by the number of entitlements allocated to that farmer in 2015. The fixed percentage is calculated by dividing the ceiling available for the bps scheme in 2015 by the total value of payments issued under the 2014 scheme.
If a farmer sells or leases all or part of their holding to one or more active farmers before 2015, s/he can transfer the corresponding right to receive payment entitlements. Payment entitlements can only be transferred (leased or sold) to an active farmer, except through inheritance. The reversion of entitlements upon expiry of a lease does not constitute a “transfer‟. Entitlements may be transferred, including by way of lease, without land,
if entitlements are transferred without land, member states may apply a claw-back of part of the entitlements transferred in favour of the national reserve.
Member states to set minimum activity level for areas “naturally kept in a state suitable for grazing or cultivation”. Member states may also exclude from payment those for whom farming is an insignificant part of their economic activity. No payments to be made in respect of airports, railway services, waterworks, real estate services and permanent sport and recreational grounds. Member states may add to this list. Member states also have the discretion to categorise such entities as active farmers if the latter can provide verifiable evidence demonstrating that their agricultural activities are not insignificant, or that the annual amount of direct payments is at least 5% of the total receipts obtained from non-agricultural activities,
member states must also set a threshold amount, not exceeding €5,000, below which the negative list/economic activity will not be applied.
National or Regional Reserve
Funded by up to 3% of 2015 basic payment ceiling, the reserve is to be used to allocate payment entitlements as a priority to young farmers and to farmers commencing their agricultural activity, with discretion for member states to set objective and non-discriminatory eligibility criteria. Optional uses include prevention of land abandonment, compensation for specific disadvantages and allocation of payment entitlements where a farmer did not get any entitlements as a result of force majeure or exceptional circumstances. Option for member states to either allocate new entitlements or increase the unit value of existing entitlements up to the national or regional average value.
National/regional reserve to be replenished through, inter alia: payment entitlements not used for a period of two years, payment entitlements not giving rise to payments because the farmer is not considered active, or does not meet the minimum payment/area requirements, voluntary reversion of payment entitlements by farmers.
- 30% of direct payment is paid as a “greening‟ payment, contingent on compliance with three greening criteria.option to apply the 30% either as a flat rate or as a percentage of the farmer‟s individual payment.
- Greening practices must be observed on all of a farmer‟s eligible hectares, i.e. not just on the area covered by entitlements.
Three greening criteria:
• Exemption for farmers with less than 10 hectares of arable land.
• 2-crop requirement between 10 and 30 hectares, and 3-crop requirement over 30 hectares.
• Exemption for farmers with over 75% of holding under grassland (permanent and temporary), and with over 75% of arable land under temporary grassland, provided the remainder of their land is less than 30 hectares.
• Main crop maximum of 75% of arable land, and where there are three crops, the two main crops together cannot account for more than 95% of the arable land.
- Maintenance of existing permanent grassland at national, regional or farm level.
- New permanent grassland ratio to be created using 2012 declarations, which will be updated using additional lands declared in 2015.
- Threshold for conversion of permanent grassland compared to reference ratio is 5% – where this is breached, there will be an obligation at individual farmer level to reconvert land into land under permanent grassland (except where the breach arises from afforestation).
- Ban on ploughing of certain designated lands in permanent grassland within natura 2000 areas where the areas are environmentally sensitive and where the objectives of the directive require them to be strictly protected.
Ecological focus areas
- Applies to arable land only, permanent crops are excluded, exemption where the arable land of a holding is less than 15 hectares. If over 15 hectares, 5% of the arable land must be ecological focus area, increasing to 7% in 2017 after a commission report and legislative act. The list of qualifying areas includes fallow land, terraces, landscape features and buffer strips. A weighting matrix (optional where ratio > 1) in respect of areas/features included.
- Similar to crop diversification, exemption for holdings where more than 75% of the holding is in grassland (permanent or temporary), or covered by crops under water, or a combination of both, subject to a maximum for the remaining land of 30 hectares. Exemptions also for holdings where more than 75% of the arable land is temporary grassland, fallow, leguminous crops, or a combination of these, subject to a maximum for the remaining land of 30 hectares.
List of equivalent practices yielding an equivalent or higher level of benefit for the climate and the environment, allowing farmers to satisfy the three greening criteria. In addition to agri-environment-climate measures and national or regional environmental certification schemes, these can include practices such as crop rotation, maintenance of landscape features on permanent grassland and ecological set-aside. Commission can add practices to list and establish certification scheme requirements. Equivalent practices will not be the subject of double funding
- No additional penalty for non-compliance in the first two years.
- Maximum of 20% of greening payment in year 3 (2017), and 25% in year 4 (2018).
- Payments for areas with natural constraints
Optional top-up payments for farmers in new ANCs (formerly LFAs),
Member states may set maximum number of hectares per holding on which these payments can be made. Member states may use up to 5% of their annual national ceiling for these payments.
Young farmers’ scheme-Details
- Mandatory scheme under pillar 1.
- Applicants must be under 40 years of age in the year in which the application is submitted.
- Applicants must be setting up an agricultural holding for the first time or have set up a holding in the previous five years.
- Member states may define further objective and non-discriminatory eligibility criteria.
- Payment to be granted for a maximum period of five years from the date of setting up.
- Member states may choose one of the following payment calculation methods:
- 25% of the average value of the payment entitlements held by the farmer, 25% of the average value of entitlements in the member state, 25% of the national average payment per hectare in the member state (based on the national ceiling), multiplied by the number of entitlements activated by the young farmer, or a lump sum payment.
- Member states must apply a maximum limit of not less than 25 and not more than 90 payment entitlements activated or eligible hectares declared by the farmer (this does not apply to the lump sum payment), member states can use up to 2% of their annual national ceiling for the scheme.
- Voluntary provision for member states to use up to 8% of their annual national ceiling for coupled support in specific sectors, plus a further 2% for protein crops.
- Member states who implemented more than 5% coupled aid in one year in the period 2010-2014 permitted a level of 13%, plus 2% for protein crops,
- Member states who implemented more than 10% in one year in the 2010-2014 period may decide to use more than 13% upon approval by the commission.
Small Farmers’ Scheme-Details
- Optional scheme, with a maximum payment of €1,250.
- Member states can use up to 10% of their national ceiling, unless they choose to calculate the payment on the basis of what the applicant is entitled to receive each year and opt not to round low payments up to €500. In this case, there is no maximum percentage of the national ceiling that can be used for the scheme.
- Farmers must lodge an application no later than 15 october 2015.
- Member states may provide that farmers whose payments are lower than €1,250 are automatically included in the small farmers‟ scheme, unless they expressly withdraw from it.
Member states may choose one of the following payment calculation methods:
• up to 25% of the national average payment per beneficiary, based on the national ceiling set for calendar year 2019, the national average payment per hectare multiplied by a figure up to 5.
• an amount equal to what the individual applicant is entitled to in 2015.
• an amount equal to what the individual applicant is entitled to receive, under the bps and related schemes, for each year.
• in the case of the first two options above, where the calculations result in an amount either lower than €500 or higher than €1,250, the amount shall be rounded up or down, respectively, to the minimum or maximum amount. In the case of the third and fourth options above, where the payment amount is less than €500, member states may round this amount up to €500.
• cross-compliance and greening controls are not applied to farmers in this scheme.
THE SINGLE PAYMENT SCHEME (SPS)
The Single Payment Scheme was introduced in 2005 and was calculated using the average number of animals (hectares in the case of Arable Aid Schemes), on which payment was made under each scheme in the reference years (2000, 2001 and 2002) multiplied by the 2002 payment rate for that scheme (383.04 for Arable Aid Schemes).
In general, the Single Payment Scheme was applicable to farmers who actively farmed during the reference years 2000, 2001 and 2002, who were paid Livestock Premia and/or Arable Aid in one or more of those years and who continued to farm in 2005.
The gross Single Payment was based on the average number of animals and/or the average number of hectares (in the case of Arable Aid) on which payments were made in the three reference years.
Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme 2016-Terms and Conditions
Basic Payment Scheme 2016- Terms and Conditions
BPS Land Eligibility Guidelines Booklet
Guide to Greening
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