Landowners who have no livestock or are not growing arable crops will not be allocated any entitlements under the new Farm Sustainability Payment (FSP).

At present, many non-farming landowners still have Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) entitlements and, although they are unable claim a BPS payment, they can still trade their entitlements every year. Others have managed to stay in the system by selling grass.

A spokesperson for DAERA has confirmed to the Irish Farmers Journal that landowners who carried out “no agricultural activity” during 2020 and 2021 “will not be allocated FSP entitlements”.

“The arrangements for these individuals for trading BPS entitlements before the introduction of the FSP are still being developed, and those impacted will be notified in advance of the transition to the new scheme,” a department spokesperson said.

DAERA previously said non-farmers would not be able to claim FSP, but the latest confirmation that they will not have any entitlements in the first place takes this a step further.

Non-farming landowners were initially allowed into the area-based payment system back in 2005 when the Single Farm Payment was introduced.

Reform of the system a decade later with the roll out of the BPS and so-called “active farmer” rules tried to clamp down on non-farmers’ claiming payments.


However, many landowners started to lease their BPS entitlements to their tenants every year and added the value of their payment to land rents.

Other landowners tried to meet active farmer rules by selling grass or maintaining land in eligible condition, although it has been clear for some time that these claimants will not be able to receive the new FSP.

DAERA guidance states that anyone who had no livestock, or less than 3ha of arable crops in 2020 and 2021, will not be able to claim FSP.

The exact timeframe for the roll out of the new rules remains unclear. In 2024, the current BPS system remains in place as usual, with 2025 deemed a “transition” to the new FSP before full implementation in 2026.

Active farmers

For farmers involved in normal agricultural activity, the move from BPS to FSP should be relatively straightforward.

“Current BPS entitlements will effectively be carried forward and allocated as entitlements under the new FSP scheme, with no re-baselining of either the number or value of entitlements,” the DAERA spokesperson said.

However, the value of all entitlements is set to drop by 8% to 8.5% next year to fund a new Beef Carbon Reduction Scheme.

Further cuts will take place in subsequent years to free up money for the new Suckler Cow Scheme and the Farming With Nature Scheme.