New RPA Active Farmer Certificate
The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has recently published an Active Farmer Certificate with accompanying guidance, to enable farming businesses to confirm their active farmer status for the purposes of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).
The form is designed to be completed by an accountant to confirm that their client is not carrying out any of the five specified non-agricultural activities (explained further below) and that they satisfy either of the first two readmission criteria set out below.
By way of a brief reminder of the key principles of the “active farmer” rule, our agricultural clients will be aware that farmers must satisfy the active farmer test to make a BPS claim.
BPS payments cannot be made in relation to airports, railway services, waterworks, real estate services and permanent sport and recreational grounds. For the latter exclusion to apply:
- The grounds must be dedicated and maintained throughout the year for sporting or recreational use (even if the land is also used for agricultural purposes);
- The ground must have one or more permanent structures on them; and
- The ground or facilities must not be just for personal use.
However, farmers may still be able to claim BPS if they satisfy one of the three readmission criteria, which assess whether or not the farming activities carried out are significant. These are:
- Their annual direct payments (under the BPS, plus the greening payment and any young farmer payment) are at least 5% of their total receipts from non-agricultural activities in the most recent financial year;
- Their total receipts from agricultural activities are at least 40% of their total receipts in the most recent financial year; or
- They have at least 36 eligible hectares.
A farmer must provide evidence supporting the relevant readmission criterion with their BPS claim by the scheme deadline. The Active Farmer Certificate should hopefully make this process easier for the farming business.
Fenella Eddell is a solicitor in the property department at Barker Gotelee, Suffolk solicitors.