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Key Dates, Rule changes and NVZ derogations

Key Dates, Rule changes and NVZ derogations

28 October 2016


31st October

If you hold a summer water abstraction licence (authorising abstraction wholly within the months of April to October), the Environment Agency will make actual abstraction return forms available to you from 31st October. You then have 28 days to send your readings to the Environment Agency. (GAEC 2)

1st November

You can burn heather, rough grass, bracken, gorse or vaccinium on land, other than in upland areas, from this date. (GAEC 6)

26th November

Pesticide application equipment in use must be covered by a certificate issued by the National Sprayer Testing Scheme. 30th November. If you have a two-part tariff agreement for your water abstraction licence, you should expect to receive your second part charge after 30th November. (GAEC 2)

1st December

You need to carry out your annual inventory of sheep. (SMR 8)


The EA deadline of 30th December 2016 is fast approaching and we all know this time of year seems to fly by. To be eligible for a grassland derogation your holding must meet the following criteria:

· Over 80% of your land is grass

· You land must be within an NVZ A grassland derogation enables you to spread up to 250kg/ha of Nitrogen from manure of grazing livestock.

To apply you must contact the Environment Agency for a derogation.


GAEC 1 – Establishment of buffer strips along watercourses

From 1 January 2017, land parcels of 2 hectares or less next to watercourses will have to comply with the need to protect watercourses against pollution and run-off from agricultural sources, by maintaining buffer strips.

The following two rules apply:

You must take reasonable steps to maintain a green cover

You must not cultivate or apply fertilisers or pesticides

This will apply to all land:

Within two metres of the centre of a watercourse

With a field ditch from the edge of a watercourse

With a field ditch to one metre on the landward side of the top of the bank


If you have any queries or concerns on any of the above or any other cross compliance issue, we can help.

Please contact Carol Johnson 01434 607 028 or 07753693111


Euro Exchange Rate set for BPS 2016

Euro Exchange Rate set for BPS 2016

30 September 2016

The Euro exchange rate has been set at €1 = £0.85228 for calculating 2016 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments.This is based on an average of the European Central Bank exchange rates set in September.

The previous year’s exchange rate for 2015 BPS was €1 = £0.73129 representing an increase of 16.5 per cent on the 2015 rate and the most favourable rate since 2011.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will make full payments on 2016 BPS claims from the opening of the payment window in December and all payments will be made directly into bank accounts. It is crucial that you notify any changes to your bank deatils in order to avoid any delays.

Should you have any questions concerning your 2016 BPS please contact Carol Johnson or Gillian Pattinson.

Key Dates

Key Dates

01 September 2016

There are a number of important cross compliance dates coming up that may affect you. If you need help relating to any of them, please give us a call 01434 607028.

Key Dates  

1st September You can cut or trim hedges and trees from this date. (GAEC 7a and 7c)

Start of the closed period for applying organic manure with a high readily available nitrogen content to grassland on shallow or sandy soils. (SMR1)

15th September Start of closed period for applying manufactured nitrogen fertilisers to grassland. (SMR1)

16th September Start of closed period for applying organic manure with a high readily available nitrogen content to tillage land on shallow or sandy soils which have been sown with crops on or before 15th September. (SMR1)

1st October You can burn heather, rough grass, bracken, gorse or vaccinium on land in upland areas from this date. (GAEC 6) Start of closed period for applying organic manures with a high readily available nitrogen content to tillage land on soils which are not shallow or sandy. (SMR1)

15th October Start of closed period for applying organic manure with a high readily available nitrogen content to grassland on soils which are not shallow or sandy. (SMR1)

31st October If you hold a summer water abstraction licence the Environment Agency will make actual abstraction return forms available to you from this date. You then have 28 days to send your readings to the Environment Agency. (GAEC 2)

Cross Compliance

Cross Compliance

10 August 2016

Cross Compliance Failures – Costing farmers’ money in more ways than one.


Whilst Cross Compliance failures can lead to financial penalties on BPS and Environmental / Countryside Stewardship payments, they can also be responsible for the delay in these payments being received in the first instance. A double whammy that can leave businesses in a difficult situation.  

Following the publication of the 2015 cross compliance inspection results by the RPA, it is clear that the same issues are causing problems for claimants. Below you will find the top 10 failures for 2015 and also a list of common short comings leading to the breaches.

You can manage the risk of failure by being aware of your responsibilities on your holding and up-dating your practices where needed. If you are unsure of any of your obligations relating to cross compliance or would like further guidance on any specific matters you can find the full guide here or alternatively speak to Carol Johnson at HNR who will be happy to help.


Top 10 Cross Compliance Failures in 2015 by % of inspections failed


Cattle Identification & Registration



NVZ Regulations



Sheep & Goat Identification & Records



Buffer Strips Along Watercourses



Animal Welfare



Pig Identification and Registration



Food & Feed Law



Plant Protection Products






Ancient Monuments



Food and Feed Law: Failures for not meeting TB testing intervals. No PPP records kept or incomplete /not produced at inspection. Key pieces of information are missing, or information is not kept at all. Information is kept but not in a systematic manner; it cannot be produced on demand, taking into account a test of reasonableness.

Cattle: Failure to report cattle movements. Movement details not recorded or incorrectly recorded on farm register / database. Failure to report cattle deaths. Animal not found in farm records.

NVZ: None of the required records available on request. Records incomplete. Temporary field heaps sited in a high risk location.

Sheep: Incomplete movement records. Incomplete recording of births, deaths, replacement tags. Annual Inventory not completed. Must record moves to a different CPH even if keepership is unchanged.

Buffer Strips: Failure to produce or keep a map showing all surface waters and all springs, wells and boreholes with no spread zones. Cultivation of /application of fertiliser or pesticides to 2 m buffer zone from centre of a watercourse. Cultivation of /application of fertiliser or pesticides to 1 m buffer zone from top of watercourse bank. No green cover on 2 m buffer from centre of a watercourse and 1 metre from top of watercourse bank.

Hedges: Cultivation of /application of fertiliser or pesticides to 2 m buffer zone from centre of a hedge. No green cover on 2 m buffer from centre of a hedge. Hedge has been cut or trimmed during the closed period (1 March to 31 August).

Animal Welfare: Failure to keep medicine records. Inappropriate animal care. Delay to treatment for illness or seeking veterinary advice. Insufficient staff to prevent welfare problems or a lack of competence of staff.

Plant protection: PPP’s used in a manner that is not in accordance with the relevant legislation, good plant protection practice in Code of Practice. Approved products used incorrectly – maximum dose, number of applications, not on approved crop, harvest interval, warning beekeepers, LERAP records. PPE not used. Failure to keep PPP records

Rights of Way: A visible public right of way has been wilfully obstructed. The surface of a visible, cross field footpath or bridleway has been disturbed and has not been re-instated to meet the minimum width requirement and /or within the specified time(s). Route of reinstated path not indicated.




15 July 2016

Approx. 173 acres (70 hectares) of arable land
To let on a 5 year Farm Business Tenancy
from 11th November 2016
Particulars and tender packs available from Gillian Pattinson on
01434 607028
Closing date for tenders 12 noon on Friday 5th August 2016

RPA – Brexit and BPS 2015

RPA – Brexit and BPS 2015

29 June 2016

RPA – Brexit and BPS 2015 up-date

The RPA have up-dated their advice for BPS claimants.


According to the latest press release “The decision by the British public to leave the European Union, does not mean there will be immediate changes. Until the UK formally leaves the EU, it still has a legal obligation to comply with the Common Agricultural Policy and all BPS scheme rules and regulations will apply.”

This shoud reassure claimants for the 2016 and 2017 scheme years.

2015 BPS queries

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has set out what it is now doing to resolve remaining queries for 2015 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments.

By the end of June RPA will start writing to all claimants whose payments are part of its planned payment reconciliation process to let them know what is happening and what they can expect.

As well as the cases known to RPA, and so it can investigate all claim issues, the Agency asked farmers who believe their payment was not what they expected to write to them. Anyone with a query can still write to RPA, so it can investigate.

You can read the full article by clicking here

If you have any queries or concerns please contact the HNR office and ask to speak to Carol or Gillian (01434 607028). 

Mid Tier Stewardship

Mid Tier Stewardship

19 May 2016

Applications are currently being accepted for the Mid Tier Countryside Stewardship Scheme .

If your existing Environmental Stewardship agreement expires this year or has already expired you may be eligible to apply.

Natural England have made changes to a number of criteria since the first round of applications in 2015 and as a result they feel that it will offer a better overall experience to those wanting to go forward with an application:

  • Suspension of the minimum £5000 application value
  • More Upland specific options
  • On-line options tool
  • MAGIC mapping for target priorities
  • Simpler soil testing & photographic evidence
  • Clearer Livestock record keeping requirements
  • Longer application window

Unlike previous rural development schemes, applications for most elements of Countryside Stewardship are competitive, which means that applications will be scored against specific criteria, and that not everyone who applies will be successful. Targeting and scoring will encourage applicants to choose options that help achieve the environmental priorities in their local area.

The main priority for Countryside Stewardship is to protect and enhance the natural environment, in particular the diversity of wildlife (biodiversity) and water quality. Applicants are encouraged to select multi-year options and capital items that are closest to the environmental priorities for their area, as described in the Statements of Priorities to generate the best score possible.

The application period closes on the 30 September 2016 and application packs must be requested no later than the 31 August. During October, all applications will be assessed and applicants will be notified of the outcome in November. Any agreement offered must be accepted within 20 days of should you wish to proceed and in any case no later than 15 December.

We are actively encouraging those eligible to look at the possibility of a Mid Tier agreement, but advise caution and urge proper consideration of the undertakings.

If you would like any further help or advice on Mid Tier or any other Rural Development funding, please contact Carol Johnson at the HNR office (Office 01434 607 028. Mobile 07753 693111. Email cjohnson@hexhammart.co.uk )


The new 10 mile Rule and up-coming dates for your diary

The new 10 mile Rule and up-coming dates for your diary

27 April 2016

New 10-mile rule

Under the new system, farmers will be able to move their animals around their land, within a 10-mile radius, without the need to report, and without standstills.

If you currently hold more than one CPH and would like to merge them, DEFRA will write to you at some point between summer 2016 and summer 2017 to give you more details on how to apply to merge them. In the meantime you do not need to do anything other than plan ahead.

Once the changes have been made, you will still need to record and report livestock movements between different CPHs. These movements will trigger the standstill rules on all the land included in the CPH to which your animals have moved.

For further details, including information about linked holdings and SOAs click here or contact the HNR office and speak to Carol Johnson.   

Important up coming dates

April 2016


Before the 30 April you must up-date your records:

  • Record how any grassland was managed in the previous calendar year.
  • If you use livestock manure on your holding, you must complete a record for the previous year showing the numbers of livestock kept on your holding, the category and number of days each animal spent on your holding and your calculation of the amount of nitrogen produced by livestock

For full record keeping requirements click here or contact the HNR office and speak to Carol Johnson.   

Hedgerow and Boundaries Capital Grant Scheme 

The deadline is the 30th April 2016 - Application forms and all supporting documents must be with Natural England by then. Small scale grants of up to £5000 for walling and hedgerow work can be applied for. 

May 2016

BPS 2016

The deadline is the 16th May 2016. Make sure you have all of your supporting documents and your BP5 application to the RPA by then

Environmental and Countryside Stewardship Claim forms

The deadline is the 16th May 2016. Make sure you have all of your supporting documents and your claim form submitted to Natural England by then. Copies of claim forms can be requested from your local office.

If you require any help or guidance about the completion of the above claims, HNR have an extensive knowledge about BPS and Stewardship and are happy to discuss your situation. Please call the office to arrange an appointment. 

BPS 2016: Apply now!

BPS 2016: Apply now!

29 March 2016

You can now complete and submit your 2016 BPS application. You can do this electronically via Basic Payments Online or if you cannot access this facility via a paper application. 

There is lots of guidance available to help complete the forms including video tutorials and guidebooks, and the RPA have a four point plan to follow when applying: 

  • check your information
  • change anything that needs updating
  • complete your declarations
  • confirm your information and apply

The RPA are opening the Customer Call Centre for longer hours and will be available at weekends too. You can also book an appointment at a local support centre (the neaerst ones being Newcastle and Carlisle) 03000 200 301. Please be aware that we have experienced considerable delays in reaching the operators as demand for assistance is very high.

As is anticipated, there are a number of work arounds that are in place for 2016 as the on-line system is not yet fully operational. For example paper documents such as RLE1 forms and supporting documents for the new and young farmer schemes still need to be sent to the RPA via post. Any paper documents that support your cliam must reach the RPA by the deadline of the 16th May 2016. 

If you have any concerns about your BPS 2016 claim including questions about greening, commons, new and young farmer eligibilty, entitlement and land transfers please contact the office and speak to Gillian Pattinson or Carol Johnson.

You can start your 2016 BPS application now…

You can start your 2016 BPS application now…

07 March 2016

Farmers and agents can now log in to the Rural Payments Service to begin the application process for the 2016 Basic Payment Scheme.


Currently, claimants can check their land, view and transfer land and entitlements, as well as checking and change their personal and business details.

From around mid-March onwards, claimants and agents will be able to complete declarations and confirm all information before submitting their completed application online.

Anyone who applied for the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) online in 2014 will be sent all they need to apply online for BPS in 2016. Those who did not apply online in 2014, will receive a paper form but they can apply online if they wish.

RPA have warned that this will not be a fully on-line application process for some applicants as there will be some instances where paper documents will need to be submitted such as notifying mapping changes.

All the latest information on how to apply for BPS 2016 online can be found here

The application deadline for BPS 2016 claims is midnight on 16 May 2016.

Should you wish to discuss you application please contact the HNR office 01434 607 028  

Scheme Updates

Scheme Updates

02 March 2016

Below is a brief list of the main DEFRA schemes that are currently available or will soon. If you wish to discuss any of these opportunities further, please contact Gillian Pattinson or Carol Johnson at the HNR Office: 041434 607 028.

Following on there is also an update on the BPS 2015 scheme payments from the RPA.

Schemes open at the moment

Farming Recovery Fund – to help those affected by flooding in December 2016. Grants up to £20,000 available towards fencing, repairing flood damage and reinstating land back to production. Closes 1 April 2016

Hedgerow and Boundaries Capital Grants - up to £5000 available for stonewall and hedgerow restoration. Closes 30 April 2016.

Woodland Creation grants - a one-off payment of up-to £6800 / ha towards the cost of supplying and planting trees and associated items needed to create new woodland. Closes on 31st March 2016.

Schemes opening soon

Basic Payment Scheme 2016 – From the end of the first week of March applicants will be able to check the information the RPA holds already via rural payments online and begin to make changes, including transferring land and entitlements. From mid-March onwards, applicants will be able to complete their declarations and confirm the information in their application before final submission. Paper submissions of supporting documents such as RLE1 forms will be required in some cases. Deadline for submission of applications and all supporting documents is 16th May 2016.

Mid Tier and Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship – financial incentives for land managers to look after their environment through land management activities. Application window opens 14th March 2016 and closes 30 September 2016.

Other funding

LEADER - You can apply to your Local Action Group (LAG) for funding for projects that create jobs, help your business to grow and benefit the rural economy. LEADER funding is delivered via LEADER LAGs and is available to local businesses, communities, farmers, foresters and land managers.

BPS 2015 Update

  • 72,000 claimants paid (approx. 82%).
  • Commoners and ‘Inspected Farms’ now starting to get paid.
  • Suspected underpayments continue. RPA still have no process in place to deal with underpayments
  • Email communication has been sent to those not paid by the end of February.
  • Claim Statements now being sent out, but there is no individual field detail to understand shortfalls. Statements will highlight whether shortfall is due to area (land/entitlement omissions), young farmer, greening or other penalty.


BPS and Countryside Stewardship

BPS and Countryside Stewardship

15 February 2016


BPS 2015

  • 68,572 BPS claims have been paid: £1.043 billion, out of a fund of £1.43 billion. Claims will continue to be paid by the RPA throughout February as they are checked and completed. Remaining claims such as commons, inspections and cross-border cases are still being processed. Farmers in these groups have been contacted to let them know when they can expect to be paid. If you have not been paid and you have not received contact from the RPA, it is worth calling the RPA to enquire further.
  • The value of some payments have not been as expected (mainly underpayments). The RPA will not investigate these cases until claim statements have been sent out.
  • Claim Statements are expected to be sent out later this month – please check them carefully. They will show how the payment has been calculated for each land region, any top ups such as Young & New Farmer Payments and any deductions such as cross compliance penalties. The claim statement will also show entitlement data but the RPA warn that this may not be up-to-date.
  • RPA expect Entitlement Statements to be sent out towards the end of March 2016. These will show the final position of entitlements held by the business.   

BPS 2016

  • The RPA advise that BPS 2016 will be delivered via an on-line service, however paper forms will be available for those who didn’t use SPS on-line in 2014. The RPA hope to send full guidance from late February onwards.
  • Limited information is available about how the system will work in practice, but each claimant will be required to check and up-date information relating to land parcels linked to their holding via the on-line “land viewer” and be able to print out maps of individual land parcels. This information will be used for the basis of the 2016 claim. 
  • On-line transfer of land and entitlements will be available from March and the deadline for transfers is the 16th may 2016.
  • RPA will be asking all Accountable People for each claim to provide the following information beofre the 2016 payment will be made: Name, National Insurance Number, Percentage voting rights, Percentage share in the business & Interest in any other farming business.

Should you have any questions regarding BPS please contact the HNR office and speak to Gillian pattinson or Carol Johnson - 01434 607 028.


  • Applications are now open for the Hedgerows and Boundaries capital grant until 30 April 2016.
  • The next round of Countryside Stewardship Mid and Higher applications opens on the 14 March until 30 September. Natural England have advised us that new and improved guidance material will be available in mid-March, making it easier for applicants to choose the right, high scoring options. No assurances have been made regarding changes to make the scheme more attractive to livestock and upland farmers.
  • Agreements offers are still be generated for successful Mid-Tier and Higher Tier 2015 applicants. It is important to check any offer documents very carefully to ensure that it matches your application and that you are still able to meet the on-going management and record keeping requirements. Agreement holders should use the January 2016 version of the manual to double check their obligations.
  • Natural England have advised us that new and improved guidance material will be available in mid-March, making it easier for applicants to choose the right high scoring options for applications. No assurances have been made regarding changes to make the scheme more attractive to livestock and upland farmers.

Should you wish to discuss any aspect of Countryside Stewardship schemes please contact Carol Johnson at the HNR office 01434 607 028 or via mobile  07753 693111.


Capital Grants - Boundaries and Hedgerows

Capital Grants - Boundaries and Hedgerows

25 January 2016

Environmental Stewardship – Standalone Capital Grants

The application window for Standalone capital grants for hedgerows and boundaries will open in February 2016 and close on the 30 April 2016. The grant will be for small-scale restoration of boundary features, like hedgerows and stone walls to a maximum of £5,000.

Full and final details are expected to be announced as soon as the scheme has been signed off by the Secretary of State, but so far we know that:

  • The application window will run from 1 February to 30th April 2016
  • Up to £5000 per business is available for capital works associated with stonewall and hedgerow works
  • You are eligible to apply if you do not or will not have an Environmental Stewardship or Countryside Stewardship agreement, which is live on the 1 July 2016.
  • The application will be competitive and scored with each application considered on its merits.
  • Agreements will be offered in order of the highest scoring applications until the funding has been used up (£5 million available in England for 2016) 
  • Application forms will have to be downloaded from the Gov.uk website and competed by applicants or agents – there will be very limited involvement by Natural England.

If your wish to disucss the scheme further or are interested in making an application, please contact Carol Johnson (01434 607 028 or email cjohnson@hexhammart.co.uk)

Flood Recovery Fund, Cross Compliance and BPS updates

Flood Recovery Fund, Cross Compliance and BPS updates

06 January 2016

Flood Recovery Fund

The deadline for applications has now been extended to 1 April 2016. Farmers affected by flooding in Cumbria, Northumberland, Lancashire, Yorkshire and parts of Lancashire, will be able to claim grants of £500-£20,000 to cover the cost of restoring their farmland. For help with applications, please contact Carol Johnson at HNR (office 01434 607 028, Mob 07753 693111 or email cjohnson@hexhammart.co.uk).                                                           

Cross Compliance 2016

The new cross compliance and Basic Payment scheme (BPS) year began on the 1st January 2016.  Below is a quick outline of the new rules and some of the records you may be required to keep. (Please note: This list is not exhaustive and in all cases you should consult the Guide to Cross Compliance in England 2016 for full details).

Cross compliance requirements cover the whole year and the whole of your holding including common land and land under environmental stewardship. The responsibility to meet cross compliance usually lies with claimant of the BPS (exceptions include where identification and tractability of animals is concerned or where there has been a transfer of land during the scheme year). Please get in touch if you are unsure of your responsibilities.

Exemptions and derogations from cross compliance requirements can be applied for from the RPA and in exceptional circumstances force majeure can be requested. In all cases you should contact the RPA as soon as possible (within 15 days for Force majeure).

If you have any concerns regarding Cross Compliance, please contact Carol Johnson at HNR (office 01434 607 028, Mob 07753 693111 or email cjohnson@hexhammart.co.uk)

Changes to the Cross Compliance requirements for 2016

SMR 7 – Cattle. You are only required to record the Dam ID of home bred animals in the herd register.

GAEC 7 – Trees that form part of a wind break in orchards are now exempt from the no cutting requirement (1 March – 31 August) along with the fruit or nut trees situated in the orchard.

GAEC 1 – From 1 January 2017 the 2ha minimum size rule will no longer apply and all watercourses will need to have a 2m protection zone (or 1m from the edge of the watercourse and down the bankside), where green cover must be maintained and no spreading of fertiliser, pesticides or cultivation can take place.

        Records you may be required to keep

  • GAEC 1 - Establishment of buffer strips along watercourses: No Spread Zone Map. If you spread any organic manure a risk map showing all of the holding with land within 10m of surface waters and 50m of boreholes and springs marked as no spread zones.
  • GAEC 2 - Water abstraction: Copy of abstraction licence where more than 20m3 of water / day is abstracted from inland or underground sources for irrigation.
  • GAEC 3 – Groundwater: Copy of permit and associated maps granted by the EA to allow disposal of hazardous substances (e.g. waste sheep dip or pesticide washings)
  • GAEC 6 - Maintaining the level of organic matter in soil: Copies of screening decisions granted by Natural England where permission has been granted to plough or cultivate areas of semi natural or species rich habitat
  • GAEC 7c – Trees: Copies of felling licences where more than 5m3 / calendar quarter is to be felled or permissions granted for work on trees protected by TPOs.
  • GAEC 7d - Sites of Special Scientific Interest: Copies of any permissions or consents granted by Natural England or other bodies for work carried out on SSSI sites (or Special Areas of Conservation or Special Protection Areas).
  • GAEC 7e - Ancient Monuments: Copies of prior written consent from the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, work to be carried out on Scheduled or ancient Monuments.
  • SMR 1 - Reduce water pollution in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs): If any of your holding is in an NVZ you will need to keep additional records including: Details of the holding including its size; a risk map showing the land parcels, field reference numbers and locations temporary field heaps; field records; fertiliser plans; whole farm N limits calculations; details of livestock numbers and varieties; N produced by this livestock on farm; details of manure imports and exports and; records showing slurry and poultry manure storage. These records are required to be updated where changes occur and kept for 5 years.
  • SMR 2 - Wild Birds: Copies of any permissions or consents granted by Natural England or other bodies where actions carried out may cause damage to wild birds or their habitat.
  • SMR 3 - Habitats and species: Copies of any permissions or consents granted by Natural England or other bodies where actions carried out may cause damage to habitat or species.
  • SMR 4 – Food and Feed Law: Records of inputs and outputs to and from the farming business.
  • Vet and Med records. Plant protection records. Copies of any analysis or testing carried out on farm. Reports from any animal or product analysis or tests.
  • SMR 6 – Pig identification and traceability: Movement records. Annual maximum number of animals on the holding. Copies of eAML2 licences.
  • SMR 7 – Cattle identification and registration: Herd records showing full details of individual animals on holding including identification, births, movements and deaths. Passports (signed) for each animal present on the holding. Records to be kept for 10 years after the last entry.
  • SMR 8 - Sheep and goat identification: Flock register (for each CPH) showing the holding details, births, breeds, identification and tagging information, tag replacements, movements, deaths and the 1st December totals. Also a copy of AML1 (movement licences). Records to be kept for 3 years after the last entry.
  • SMR 10 – Plant protection products: Field records showing dates, products used, dilution rates, application rates, conditions, users, LERAPS assessments carried out.
  • SMR 13 – Animal Welfare: Vet and Med records, death records, details of any tests carried out and results. Records to be kept for 3 years after the last entry.

BPS 2015 Payment up-date

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has announced that as of the 4th January almost 51% of all claimants have been paid (£425 million and 44,400 farmers). The RPA will provide an update to those claimants who are unlikely to be paid by the end of January and an estimate as to when they will be paid to help them manage their cash flow.

Payment statements showing how BPS payments have been calculated will be issued towards the end of January for those who have received their payment. Entitlement statements are due to be produced in February.

For help with BPS issues, please contact the HNR office 01434 607 028 and ask for Carol Johnson or Gillian Pattinson.



Farming Recovery Fund - Flood Damage Support

Farming Recovery Fund - Flood Damage Support

18 December 2015

Support payments between £500 and £20,000 are available to farmers in Cumbria, Lancashire and Northumberland who have been affected by flooding in order to help restore damaged agricultural land. The support aims to help farmers:

·         Restore productive grassland

·         Recover productive arable and horticultural land

·         Restore farm vehicle access and,

·         Repair agricultural drainage.

Full details of eligible works are available on the Gov.uk website but include contracting work such as grass re-seeding, soil restoration, access renewal and drainage repairs, as well as items such as stone wall restoration, fencing and field gates. Please note that payment will not be made for certain costs including farmer's own labour, livestock, insured losses (or items that insurance would normally cover) or recoverable VAT. For full details, please refer to the Farming Recovery Guidebook. Applications are to be submitted via an on-line process with a hard signed copy to be sent in support and can be made until the 18th March 2016.

Photographic evidence will be required and we advise anyone thinking of putting a claim forward to take pictures as soon as possible to record the extent of any damage and certainly before any remedial work is carried out. Payments will NOT normally be made for work carried out between the 4th December and a successful application, so unless the work is urgently required e.g. for securing livestock, it is advisable to wait until the application has been approved. 

Supporting documentation including maps will be required for all applications, so keep a written record and invoices or receipts for any work carried out, in addition to photographs taken during the work being completed.

Some Cross compliance and Environmental Stewardship requirements have been temporarily eased for affected farmers, but it is important to keep a record of any actions carried out, in case of future inspection. If you are in any doubt, contact the RPA 0300 020 0301 or Natural England 0300 060 6000 for advice.

We would be happy to help anyone affected with the completion of applications to the Farming Recovery Fund. Please contact Carol Johnson 01434 607 028 or 07753 693111 for further information.

BPS payments & Cross Compliance

BPS payments & Cross Compliance

02 December 2015

Payments are being made...

Basic Payments have begun! 38% of the 88,000 claimants received their 2015 Basic Payment Scheme payments on Tuesday (1 December). The RPA promise to pay the vast majority of claimants by the end of January. RPA will issue a remittance advice followed by a claim statement in the New Year. Confirmation of successful National Reserve applications are being sent out, but the number of entitlements awarded will not be known until entitlement statements are issued in February 2016.

Claims that are more complex such as those with commons; cross border claims; probate cases; and those deemed complex because of their size, are likely to take longer to process and pay. The RPA will write to farmers who they know are unlikely to be paid by the end of January.

Natural England have also announced that over three quarters (79%) of Environmental Stewardship advance payments worth over £114million have been made, with all advance payments expected to be delivered before Christmas as in previous years.

It is important to check each payment you receive to ensure that it is correct. Should you wish to discuss any payments please contact Gillian Pattinson (07795 838281) or Carol Johnson (07753 693111) or call the office 01434 607 028

Cross Compliance Inspections

Inspections are continuing and currently cattle and sheep inspections seem to be the RPA’s focus.

Problems found during cattle and Sheep inspections are in the “Top 5” for cross compliance breaches, along with failures in TB testing, NVZ and soil protection issues.

By keeping records (flock / herd book, vet and med) up-to-date, reporting movements, births and deaths and ensuring replacement tags are ordered and fitted within 28 days you are minimising your risk at inspection. For sheep, the 1 December Annual Inventory must be returned to DEFRA by the 31st December and complete the Annual Inventory Total in the Flock Book as well.

If you need advice on how to prepare for an inspection, record keeping requirements or any other aspect of cross compliance please contact Carol Johnson (07753 693111) or at the office 01434 607 028.

Grandfather Rights

Grandfather Rights

02 November 2015

Grandfather rights & Sprayer Testing - are you ready for this month’s changes?

Grandfather Rights (held by those born before 31 December 1964) for those using agricultural pesticides (any substance used for destroying insects or other harmful organisms), on their land will cease to exist after the 25 November 2015.

After this date, everyone who buys a professional pesticide product must ensure that the intended end user holds a specified certificate. Existing certificates of competence (e.g. PA2 and PA6) remain valid and if you do not have a certificate you can employ a contractor or a neighbouring farmer who has one to carry out the work. It remains your responsibility to check they have the appropriate certificate and we advise that you keep a note of it along with your other field records. If you do not adhere to the rules, you risk prosecution financial penalties to your Basic Payment Scheme and in some cases your Environmental Stewardship Scheme.

Your Options

 1. Take the new Level 2 Award in the Safe Use of Pesticides Replacing Grandfather Rights. This is a new qualification specifically designed to take into account the extensive experience that applicants will have accumulated over their years of spraying.

2. Take the existing Level 2 Safe Use of Pesticide (PA) Certificate. This recognised qualification allows you to spray on your own land or as a contractor.

3. If you do not wish to take the above qualifications your other option is to employ a qualified contractor for all professional pesticides applications.

For more information about local testing centres or arranging training contact Carol Johnson 01434 607028 or email cjohnson@hexhammart.co.uk

Sprayer Testing

With the exception of knapsack and hand-held sprayers, all pesticides application equipment in use must have been tested once by 26 November 2016, unless it is less than five years old. All equipment in use must still pass inspection once before the fifth anniversary of its purchase. Machinery must then be tested at a minimum of five year intervals, going to three year intervals after 2020. Records of these tests must be kept for inspection.

For details of your local test centre who are part of the Spray National Sprayer Testing Scheme, contact Carol Johnson at HNR (01434 607028 email cjohnson@hexhammart.co.uk) or the SNST helpline 0845 644 8748


BPS Exchange rate - Common Land - NVZ Derogations - 2016 Greening

BPS Exchange rate - Common Land - NVZ Derogations - 2016 Greening

02 October 2015

BPS Exchange rate

BPS payments for England are set in Euros and then converted into sterling and the rate will be €1 = £0.73129 (based on an average of the European Central Bank exchange rates set in September).

The estimated the payment rates for 2015 should be in the region of €70.00 (£51) per hectare for moorland and €244.00 (£178) per hectare in the rest of SDA and non-SDA.

The RPA will publish the actual entitlement values, greening rates and young farmer payment rates in November and aim to make full payments from December with the vast majority by the end of January.


The RPA has decided that common land should have been allocated differently under SPS, so that the full eligible area was allocated every year.

Farmers who have claimed SPS in every year from 2005 to date can now apply for SPS entitlements they should have been given in 2005 – as well as any other payments they could have received for Single Payment Scheme, Hill Farm Allowance 2010, Uplands Transitional Payment and Basic Payment Scheme, subject to a six year limitation period. Additional entitlements will be ‘rolled forward’ to become entitlements under the BPS scheme.

If you claimed common rights in 2005 and want the RPA to consider your original allocation you will need to return a formal claim to the RPA. Claim forms have been sent out to those claimants they believe to be affected, however if you have not got a form and believe you are entitled to make a claim, these can be obtained from the RPA.

NVZ derogations

If you are in an NVZ you must apply for a ‘derogation’ to spread more than 170 kilograms of nitrogen from manure from grazing livestock on your farm.

You can apply between 1 October and 31 December each year for a derogation in the following year.

You can apply for a grassland derogation which gives you permission to use a higher limit of up to 250kg of nitrogen per hectare, if the nitrogen comes from grazing livestock manure.

If your application is approved and you meet certain conditions, you’ll be able to spread up to 250 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare per year. Be aware that additional requirements and record keeping is required if your application is approved.

2016 Greening

Updated guidance on EU greening rules has been published by the RPA

The greening rules are largely the same as they were in 2015, except that:

·         oilseed radish can now count (as part of a mix) as an EFA catch and/or cover crop

·         some EFA features can now be up to 5 metres away from arable land, rather than immediately next to it

The European Commission finalises all the rules and the guidance will be completed in February 2016 along with the rest of the BPS scheme rules.


If you would like any help or advice concerning any of the above matter please ring Carol Johnson 01434 607028 or 07753693111

Important Dates

Important Dates

03 June 2015

Important Dates

There are a number of important dates coming up that may affect you. If you need help relating to any of them, please give us a call 01434 607028.

Midnight on 15 June 2015

  • Deadline for Basic Payment Scheme applications.
  • Deadline for RPA to receive RLE 1 forms for entitlement transfers.
  • Deadline for RPA to receive RLE 1 forms for land transfers (to use land for BPS 2015, the land must have been at the applicants disposal on 15 May 2015).
  • Deadline for RPA to receive RLE 1 forms telling them about most mapping changes (such as permanent changes to field boundaries).
  • Deadline for RPA to receive evidence to prove active farmer, young farmer or new farmer status.

Midnight on 10 July 2015

  • Deadline for late BPS applications, or late amendments, with penalty.

30 June 2015

  • Deadline for the Countryside Productivity Grant Applications.
  • End of BPS Fallow and Cropping period.

July 2015

  • Countryside Stewardship opens in full for Higher and Mid-Tier applications.

Midnight on 30 September 2015

  • Deadline for RPA to receive RLE1 forms telling them about permanent ineligible features that aren't already showing on your maps.
  • Deadline for applications for Higher and Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship applications.




26 January 2015



A block of approx. 240 acres of predominately arable land (approx 19 acres of grassland)

To let on a 5 year Farm Buisness Tenancy from 1 March 2015

Contact thr office for parituculars.

Closing date for tenders: 20 February 2015



Cross Compliance 2015

Cross Compliance 2015

12 December 2014

Cross Compliance 2015

If you are going to claim the Basic Payment Scheme, Countryside Stewardship, or certain rural development schemes in 2015, you must follow the cross compliance rules (including new soil protection standards) for the whole of the year.

The guidance along with the new standards for Soil Protection have now been published on the RPA’s website (click Here). Paper copies will also be sent out to all past SPS claimants. All land declared under Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) must comply with the cross compliance

rules for the whole calendar year – whoever claims it and the rules apply to all the land on a claimant’s holding (including common land and land under a rural development scheme).

The claimant is the person responsible for making sure the cross compliance rules are met. However for those rules concerning the identification and traceability of animals, it is the person with day-to-day responsibility for the animals on the holding who is responsible for meeting the rules (even if they don’t own the animals or the land that they graze on). Responsibility for the welfare of all farmed animals lies jointly with:

• the person who has day to day responsibility for the animals, and

• the owner of the animals.


Any breaches in cross compliance will lead to penalties being applied to the

• Basic Payment Scheme

• Countryside Stewardship

• Entry Level Stewardship (including Organic Entry Level Stewardship and Uplands Entry Level Stewardship)

• Higher Level Stewardship (including Organic Higher Level Stewardship and Uplands Higher

Level Stewardship, but not including HLS agreements that started before 1 January 2007)

• Woodland Management Grant and Farm Woodland Premium elements of English Woodland Grant Scheme.

There have been changes in the rules so it is important that you are familiar with your responsibilities to ensure you don’t get penalised at inspection. If you have any questions or concerns please contact Carol at the office: 01434 607 028.

December's To Do List

December's To Do List

05 December 2014

Things to do this month

1st December            

 - Annual sheep inventory totals to be recorded in Flock book

31st December           

- Return the Annual Inventory of Sheep and Goats to DEFRA

- Complete / up-date the 2014 Soil Protection Review

- Return applications for NVZ derogation to the Environment Agency

- Return applications for new Water Abstraction Licences to the Environment Agency

- Make sure you are ready for the latest sheep movement and identification rules changes from the 1st January. The full rules can be found on DEFRA’s website: Sheep identification, registration and movement guidance  

A quick guide can be found below...


For help and information about any of these issues, please contact Carol Johnson at HNR. 01434 607028, 07753 693111 or email cjohnson@hexhammart.co.uk


Changes to sheep identification rules

If you are a keeper of sheep and goats, there are some important changes to identification and reporting rules that will be in place from 1 January 2015.


From 1 January 2015, lambs being identified with the single slaughter tag must be identified with an electronic identification (EID) slaughter tag only. This change is not retrospective, so lambs identified with a non-EID slaughter tag up to the end of 2014 do not need to be re-tagged.

From 1 January 2015, when reporting ‘historic flock’ moves you must include individual tag numbers for sheep (or goats) identified before 2010 on the movement document, including your older sheep that are not EID tagged. This does not apply for moves to slaughter, which will continue to be batch reported. You still batch record historic flock animals in your holding register. If these animals will move elsewhere (other than to slaughter) you may want to re-tag them with an EID pair of tags for ease of recording.


All movements must comply with the general licence for movement of sheep and goats and be recorded in the holding register. They must be reported using the Animal Reporting and Movement Service (ARAMs).

Make sure the required information is entered accurately on the movement document. This includes the tag numbers for individually identified animals (unless moving to (i) an approved Central Point Recording Centre or (ii) to a different holding within your farm business where you are still the keeper). For a batch of slaughter animals, enter the total number of animals and the mix of flock marks too. For all moves enter the correct location addresses and CPH numbers.

You must always report the moves on to your holding - Defra cannot, and will not, assume that the move has been completed as planned until you report it.

Holding register

Failure to enter information accurately in your register (tagging, movements and the annual inventory) may result in a reduction in your SPS claim. Your register should be retained for three years after the last animal in it has left the holding and should be available on request to an inspector.

S.P.S 2014 Payment Window Opens

S.P.S 2014 Payment Window Opens

01 December 2014

The RPA is expecting to pay a record 95 per cent of all Single Payment claimants in England on 1 December when the SPS 2014 payment window opens.

Last year, the RPA paid 92.3 per cent of customers 89.3 per cent of the estimated total fund value on the first banking day of the payment window.

This year, the final SPS payment ahead of the introduction of the Basic Payment Scheme in 2015, it is expecting to go one step better. RPA chief executive Mark Grimshaw said: “This year, we are expecting a record performance and are aiming to pay almost 95 per cent of all eligible SPS claims on the first day.”

Payment rates in England based on the exchange rate set on September 30 of €1= £0.77730, will be:              

€251.39 (£195.40) for non-Severely Disadvantaged Areas (SDA)

€201.32 (£156.40) for upland SDA, other than moorland

€35.26 (£27.40) for upland SDA moorland

Most payments will arrive in claimant accounts this week with payment statements arriving shortly afterwards – this may be in the New Year. It is important to check these carefully to ensure that you have been paid the correct amount.

If you require any help with this, please don’t hesitate to contact the office and we can look into it further for you: 01434 607 028. Just ask for Gillian or Carol.

The new “Countryside Stewardship” Scheme

The new “Countryside Stewardship” Scheme

25 November 2014

The new “Countryside Stewardship” Scheme

DEFRA have announced more details on the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme with the latest publication available today on the CAP reform website - “Introducing Countryside Stewardship (November 2014)”.

According to DEFRA, Countryside Stewardship will contribute around £900 million to rural businesses to help them improve the countryside environment and will be open to all eligible farmers, land managers, land owners and tenants. It replaces Environmental Stewardship (ES) the English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) and capital grants from the Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) programme. If you already have an ES agreement which runs into 2015 or beyond, this will carry on until it ends. This is similar for EWGS agreements, though these might have to change when the new regulations come into force.

There are lots of things to be finalised but we know the basic outline of the scheme.

Countryside Stewardship will have 3 Tiers:

1. Higher Tier (similar to the current Higher Level Stewardship) for the most environmentally important sites and woodlands. These will usually be in places that need complex management (such as habitat restoration, woodland creation or tailored measures for priority species). Scheme targeting and scoring will help achieve the environmental priorities that are important in their wider area.

2. Mid Tier (which will replace Entry Level Stewardship) which aims to address widespread environmental issues, such as reducing diffuse water pollution or improving the farmed environment for farmland birds and pollinators.

3. Lower Tier of capital grants, including the Hedgerows and Boundaries Capital Grants separate to the capital grants offered through the Higher Tier or Mid Tier.

Grants are for:

• hedges and boundaries – up to £5000

• tree health issues

• woodland management plans

• woodland creation establishment

• feasibility studies & implementation plans

There will also be targeted grants for water quality improvements of up to £10,000 per holding to create infrastructures which will help reduce water pollution from agriculture.

DEFRA’s plan is that applications for Higher Tier and Mid Tier agreements can start in July 2015 and be submitted by September 2015. These agreements would start on 1 January 2016. Some capital grants for water and woodland creation will be available in 2015.

For more details please contact Carol Johnson at HNR 01434 607028 / 07753 693111 or email cjohnson@hexhammart.co.uk


A New Team Member

A New Team Member

21 November 2014


Carol Johnson has joined the HNR team. With nine years’ experience as an Agricultural Consultant, Carol is bringing knowledge and expertise to both the team and clients. Her key specialisms include rural subsidies and grants, cross compliance, appeals processes, agricultural legislation, regulation and CAP reform.

Carol grew up and worked on the family farm in Cumbria before studying Geography at the University of Newcastle. After graduating she spent 18 months working for the Rural Payments Agency Inspectorate where she inspected land, animals and records for subsidy and cross compliance purposes. A move to Lines Mitchell in 2005 saw Carol begin her career as an Agricultural Consultant and using her knowledge and experience of subsidy schemes and her own farming background she provided legislative advice to clients covering a wide range of topics from the usual subsidy and grant advice to the not quite so usual of getting wildlife licences and carrying out mock cross compliance inspections. Her skills and abilities secured her the Runner up position in the British Institute of Agricultural Consultants Young Consultant of the Year in 2011.

About joining HNR Carol said “it is a very exciting time in my career and agriculture to be joining the team. I am thrilled to be able to bring my knowledge and experience to an already well respected group of advisors linked with such an established enterprise as the mart. It is a changing time for agriculture with the CAP reform posing complex and often awkward questions for clients and it is vital that HNR can provide the best advice and give the confidence required to maximise the opportunities for each client. I am really looking forward to meeting and getting to know clients and getting to grips with my new role and the mart provides an ideal place to do this”.

Carol will be providing advice and support covering all areas of agricultural legislation and regulation including CAP reform, the Basic Payment Scheme, the New Countryside Stewardship scheme, grants, cross compliance, cattle and sheep records, tagging, Trading Standards & BCMS issues, RPA inspections and appeals.

Please feel free to drop into the office for to meet Carol or you can contact via telephone: 01434 607028, mobile: 07753 693111 or email: cjohnson@hexhammart.co.uk

SPS 2014 Payment Rates

SPS 2014 Payment Rates

20 November 2014

Single Payment Scheme 2014 – Payment rates announced

The RPA have announced the entitlement Values for the 2014 Single Payment Scheme:

Land Region

Payment Rate (€/ha)

Payment Rate (£/ha)










The exchange rate was set at the end of September 2014 at €1=0.77730p.

In 2014 the deduction for the Financial Discipline will be at a lower rate of 1.3 per cent and modulation will not be deducted from payments in 2014. 

Claims over €2,000 will be eligible for a reimbursement from the unused amounts from last year’s financial discipline deduction, resulting in most claimants receiving an additional payment with their 2014 claim of 3.1 per cent.

The RPA will start to make SPS 2014 Entitlements Statements available to view on SPS Online from January 2015 and paper copies will be sent out in January 2015 to those who applied on paper forms. These statements will confirm the number and value of each farmer’s SPS 2014 entitlements. Payments will be lower than the values printed on the entitlement statement due to the deduction of the Financial Discipline and will be lower than last year based on the exchange rate set at the end of September of €1=0.77730p.