While Covid-19 continues to dominate headlines for all the right reasons, farmers in Cork still need to meet the Department of Agriculture deadlines explains Philip O’Connor, Head of Farm Support with ifac.
May 15th is one of the most important dates for farmers in the farming year. This is the deadline for declaring the land you are farming in the year 2020, and therefore receive your Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) monies in October/December.
It has been widely reported that BPS is crucial to the financial viability of many farms in Ireland and in light of Covid-19, and its impact on the economy, it could be of vital importance later this year.
It is for this reason that the Department has not extended the deadline to ensure BPS payments arrive on time in October/December.
We know it can be an incredibly stressful time for farmers if this application is incorrect and monies are withheld. Therefore, the following are some basic questions farmers should be asking themselves and their Agri Advisors before submitting their applications:
- Am I farming more/less land than last year?
- Am I leasing in/out land that wasn’t previously on an application?
- If leasing in/out new land have I leased in/out the BPS correctly with this land?
- Have you bought/sold/inherited/gifted land in last year – have I transferred in BPS correctly?
- Have I declared all of the lands I am farming correctly on my BPS application?
- Have I changed my farming structure – Limited Company, Registered Farm Partnership, Joint Herd Number? If so I MUST transfer BPS to the new structure – ALWAYS seek your accountants advise on HOW to transfer BPS, so as not to inadvertently incur taxes.
- Have I declared all of the lands correctly in the name of the new business structure?
The best advice farmers can follow when completing a BPS application is as follows:
- Give yourself time – do not leave this application until the last minute and try to complete it on the 15th of May.
- Employ a good Agri Advisor to help you complete your application. This is money well spent considering the importance of the payment to the financial wellbeing of the farm.
- If transferring BPS to a new entity (e.g. joint herd or family member, etc.) please ensure that BOTH your accountant and Agri Advisor are aware of what’s happening. One of the most common mistakes with farmers changing business structure is that neither their accountant or Agri Advisor is aware of what the other is applying for – this can lead to serious impacts with BOTH revenue and the Department of Agriculture and could result in significant taxes and losses in BPS (if completed incorrectly). At ifac, our standard practice is that we consult with our member Agri Advisors in times of change in the farm to ensure that BPS is not jeopardised and no undue taxes are incurred in the change.
Additionally, this year the Department of Agriculture requires all applications to be made online and the Department is running a number of helplines if farmers need any further assistance.