Time for farmers to prepare for CAP 2015

The new scheme is designed to be 'digital by default' though some form of 'assisted digital' may be available.
The new scheme is designed to be 'digital by default' though some form of 'assisted digital' may be available.

Simon Fisher, NFU Holland (Lincolnshire) branch adviser, with advice on the ‘CAP journey’.

As I write this we still do not have all the final decisions that Defra is due to make. However, I am told that dossiers are with ministers and announcements are imminent.

We are waiting for decisions about what greening will involve so that farmers and growers in the county can start to plan how they are going to incorporate that aspect into their farming business.

The next announcement is likely to give us the specifics we need around ecological focused areas and crop diversification to work out how that is done on the farm, as 30 per cent of the direct payments from Brussels will be dependent on greening compliance.

As frustrating as the delay is, the key message I have been conveying to farmers is that CAP 2015 is going to be a different animal to the Single Payments Scheme we are used to. Putting aside the fine detail, which will become clear as we get nearer the January 1, 2015 start date, there are some fundamental changes in procedures that we are all going to need to get familiar with.

The new scheme is being designed to be ‘digital by default’ so that all guidance and applications will be online. This will be all on the Gov.uk website (not the RPA one we know) which will be accessed via a new security portal called ID Assurance. The Government Gateway system is no longer going to be used in the new world. For those farmers and growers who have either poor broadband speeds or are not so IT aware it will be a challenge, and some form of ‘assisted digital’ may be available. That is still subject to Ministerial approval.

With seven months to go before the start of the new scheme Defra and the RPA have embarked on a policy of releasing information in a series of factsheets that have already started to flow. While we wait for the essential ‘greening’ details, they published an overview of the new scheme on April 14. A previous ‘What you need to know’ publication in February outlined details about entitlement transfers and crop diversification exemptions. Every time Defra releases important information it wants farmers and growers to read it will send out the ‘CAP Reform Countdown’ signal, the stop watch logo. The next time we see this will be as the forthcoming greening information comes out.

As this new system is very dependent on the IT system being developed, there will be IT releases, starting in July. As the roll out takes place the key message is to ensure you register for online applications and check the details they have about you, your farm, and the details on the Rural Land Register are correct. Data from the old SPS system will be migrated across to populate the new one, so it is important it is correct. If you use an agent to assist you they will need to be empowered to do that. Are directors and partners of the farm business also empowered to deal with the claims process if needed?

Clearly getting yourself ready for 2015 is a good idea. Maybe an early new year’s promise should be to consider matters such as entitlements transfers; registering to use the new IT; making sure your details are correct; making sure all land eligible for greening is on the system; and making sure you are greening compliant as autumn cultivations go in. Preparation in advance of 2015 is key and it will have prepared you for the application in spring 2015.

It has been suggested that confirming your data is correct may be a part one requirement of eligibility for the second part of the process, that is the first application in spring 2015. The full system rollout is scheduled for January 2015, along with information and guidance and support for the Basic Payments Scheme application. The application window is due to open in mid-February 2015 and close in mid-May. Also expected in coming months are details and timescales for dealing with national reserve; the young farmers’ scheme and cross compliance 2015.

Colleagues have described the need for farmers to follow the CAP journey over coming months. That is sound advice. On previous reforms for IACS and SPS it was just about ok to ruck up to the NFU meeting a few months before the first deadline to learn about new processes.

As 2015 is a little more complicated we recommend you attend meetings on CAP reform that are offered over the coming months. On June 4 (9am) in Springfields Events Centre, the NFU ‘CAP Reform: What you need to know’ will look at greening. In November we will hold another update and anticipate one in the new year as well. Booking in is required on 01572 824250. Getting ready in advance might just help prepare you better for the new world and retain a modicum of sanity. Now when did the NFU chap last try to help your health as well?