The window for farmers to apply for BPS payments or to claim funding for environmental and woodland work has been extended by one month, due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Farmers and land managers now have until 15th June to submit applications for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and make a claim for Countryside Stewardship, Environmental Stewardship and woodland legacy revenue payments.
Rural Payments Agency (RPA) chief executive Paul Caldwell said: “We know the coronavirus is causing issues where farmers are unable to meet their agents, so we are making this extension to allow more time for the farming community to submit their applications and claims without penalty.
“I would urge farmers and their agents to complete their applications and claims as soon as they are able to, using the Rural Payments Service in the first instance.”
The period for amending claims without penalty has also been extended to 30th June, with final submission of applications and claims to be with the RPA by 10th July.
Applicants can update their personal and business information, and apply or claim through the Rural Payments Service, where farmers and their agents can also view and transfer their entitlements and land parcels.
Applications for new CS Higher Tier and Mid-Tier agreements are still being accepted ahead of their respective deadlines of 1st May and 31st July 2020.
RPA has said it will continue to monitor the situation carefully and consider if further measures are needed to support farmers.
Meanwhile Natural England and the Forestry Commission are continuing to provide advice by phone or video call for land managers who are developing Higher Tier applications in time for the 1st May deadline, so that schemes can be progressed in the absence of a site visit.
Natural England will also support Mid-Tier applicants through an off-farm advice programme whereby applicants can contact an adviser and book a clinic session.
In these challenging times, the government is also warning farmers to be vigilant against fraudsters who may try to take advantage. RPA said it will not call or send emails or texts asking you to confirm personal details or payment information. It also warned against opening any links unless from the following email addresses: