The 2021 application deadline for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) is 17 May 2021. For qualifying applicants, the opportunity to continue to avail of both the Basic Payment and forestry premium on the same land in 2021 is highly attractive.
Eligibility questions include: Was the land declared on a Single Payment application in 2008 and did it give a right to payment under the 2008 Single Payment Scheme?Was the land planted in any year since January 2009 or is it to be planted in 2021?Are you, as the BPS applicant (or joint applicant) and wishing to avail of the Basic Payment on planted land, the person (or persons) named as the eligible forestry scheme beneficiary (or joint beneficiary)? Does the afforested land meet all the requirements of the relevant forestry scheme and cross-compliance?
When the period of premia payments under your afforestation measure has concluded, eligible parcels can remain eligible for BPS, providing commitment to the relevant particular afforestation measure is fully maintained. This includes eligible agroforestry and is a welcome Department clarification.
Completing your BPS application
It is essential to enter the appropriate parcel use on the online BPS application. This will depend on when the forest was, or will be, planted.If planted before 2009, enter ‘Forestry’ as the parcel use. If your forest meets all eligibility requirements, was planted between 2009 and 2020 and the parcel is pre-printed as ‘Forestry Eligible’, do not change. Otherwise, the parcel use should reflect the year the forest was planted. For instance, if the forest was planted in 2018 and you believe that it is BPS-eligible, then it should be declared with ‘Forestry 2018’ as the parcel use. The Department’s BPS section will check this and amend the parcel if it is eligible to be ‘Forestry Eligible’.If you have planted in 2021 or are in the process of doing so at the time of BPS application, then the parcel use should be entered as ‘Forestry 2021’.If you are planning to plant this year, but the work hasn’t started at the time of BPS application, then enter the current parcel use, which should subsequently be amended to ‘Forestry 2021’ if and when forest establishment proceeds.
Issues to look out for
A number of other important issues are worth considering by the applicant, in conjunction with his/her agent, regarding forestry and BPS interactions.
1 Ensure all parcels are included and the correct parcel areasCheck your pre-printed statements and maps to ensure that all relevant forestry parcels are present and that any changes made since 2020 are taken into account.Ensure the correct claimed area is included for all eligible forestry parcels. If the Maximum Eligible Area (MEA) and/or claimed area is pre-printed as 0 for any eligible forestry parcel, it must be changed to the appropriate area for eligibility.
2 Forestry transfers
Notify the Forestry Division in advance if there is a change of ownership of a grant-aided forest during the term of the forestry contract.The farmer who wishes to benefit from the Basic Payment on afforested land must be the person (or persons) named as the forestry scheme beneficiary (or joint beneficiary). In order for a transferee to avail of BPS payment on eligible forestry parcels being transferred, they must be named as the forestry scheme beneficiary in the year of transfer i.e the transferee – not the transferor – should be the person eligible for payment of the forestry premium.Advanced planning, appropriate timing and a coordinated approach between the transferor and transferee are essential in such cases, to help ensure continued eligibility.It is important to check in advance with the BPS section and plan accordingly.
3 Remember the two year usage rule
All entitlements allocated under BPS and the National Reserve are subject to a two-year usage rule. Any entitlement unused for two consecutive years will revert to the National Reserve.
It is important to give the BPS ample time and attention. Engage with your advisor/agent.
Teagasc foresters provide independent and objective advice on BPS interactions to landowners.
Further information here.