Cross-border holdings

Date published: 1 April, 2015

On 1 January 2015, the Single Payment Scheme / Single Farm Payment was replaced by the Basic Payment Scheme.

Farmers will receive one payment for the land they claim in the whole of the UK under the Basic Payment Scheme (including the Greening payment and any top-up payment for young farmers).

Farmers with a ‘cross-border’ holding (land in two or more parts of the UK: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) need to submit a Basic Payment Scheme application to each part of the UK where they have land.

What is a holding?
A holding is all of the land a farmer manages and uses for agricultural activities in the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).

It can include more than one County Parish Holding (CPH) number and land farmed at more than one location. Farmers with land in two or more parts of the UK will need to submit a Basic Payment Scheme application to each paying agency where they have land.

There are different rules for Basic Payment Scheme in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

This guidance gives more information for farmers with a cross-border holding about how to:

  • apply for a Basic Payment Scheme payment
  • meet the Basic Payment Scheme rules on their holding – including the active farmer and Greening rules
  • meet Cross Compliance rules
  • apply for entitlements
  • apply for the Young Farmer payment

Who manages the schemes in different parts of the UK?

These ‘paying agencies’ manage the schemes and make payments:

  • England – Rural Payments Agency (RPA)
  • Northern Ireland – Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD)
  • Scotland – Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID)
  • Wales – Rural Payments Wales (RPW)

Where to find scheme rules and guidance

You can access scheme rules and guidance for each part of the UK using the links below:

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Farmers with a cross-border holding need to submit a Basic Payment Scheme application in all the parts of the UK where they have land. They need to do this even if they are not claiming Basic Payment Scheme in all those parts of the UK.

Example
A farmer with land in England and Wales needs to submit an application to both:

- the RPA for the land in England, and

- RPW for the land in Wales

This farmer will still need to submit an application in both England and Wales even if they are not claiming Basic Payment Scheme in one of those parts of the UK.

In future, all applications will need to be made online. However, in 2015, most farmers with land in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales will be sent a paper application form but will also have the choice of applying online.

Read the guidance for the relevant part of the UK to find out which farmers will be sent paper application forms. Farmers in England will need to register online and then complete a paper application.

In 2015 farmers can apply for BPS:
England Register online and apply using a paper application
Northern Ireland Paper and online
Scotland Paper and online
Wales Paper and online

Farmers need to declare on their Basic Payment Scheme application whether they have land in more than one part of the UK.

They need to do this for each application they submit (one to each paying agency where they have land).

Farmers will be paid by the paying agency in the part of the UK where most of the land on their holding is located.

However, if a farmer’s most recent Single Payment Scheme / Single Farm Payment payment was made by a different paying agency, they can choose for their 2015 Basic Payment Scheme payment to be made by that paying agency, even though most of their land is not in that part of the UK.

If farmers wish to nominate a different paying agency (as described in the previous paragraph), they need to tell the paying agency that paid their most recent Single Payment Scheme / Single Farm Payment payment by 9 June.

In England and Wales, farmers indicate this on their Basic Payment Scheme application form.

In Northern Ireland, this is done by telephoning 0300 200 7848 and in Scotland it is done by telephoning 0300 244 9564 or by emailing Direct_Payments@gov.scot.

The choice of paying agency won’t make any difference to the farmer’s payment or the rules the farmer needs to meet.

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To avoid a penalty, farmers must send all Basic Payment Scheme applications and supporting documents to the relevant paying agencies by the Basic Payment Scheme application deadline set by the paying agency which is paying them.

More details about penalties can be found below. Read the guidance for each part of the UK for information about application deadlines – see above.

For some scheme rules (such as rules on land eligibility – see below), farmers need to meet the rules set by the part of the UK where the relevant land is located.

For other rules (such as rules on the minimum claim size – see below), farmers need to meet the rules set by the part of the UK where most of the land on their holding is located. This applies even if the farmer has chosen to be paid by a paying agency for a different part of the UK.

The rest of this leaflet provides detail on which rules apply.

To claim Basic Payment Scheme, a farmer must be an ‘active farmer’. There are two parts to the active farmer test – the first is about business activity and the second part is about ‘land naturally kept in a state suitable for grazing or cultivation’.

This second part does not apply to land in England or Northern Ireland.

In 2015, the test about business activity does not apply to farmers who had a 2014 Single Payment Scheme / Single Farm Payment (and Scottish Beef Scheme) claim worth €5,000 or less for the entire holding, before any penalties were applied or cross compliance reductions were made.

Read the guidance for each part of the UK for more information on the active farmer rule – see above.

In Northern Ireland, the term ‘active farmer’ is also used when land is rented out under short term lets or conacre. This is not the same as the Basic Payment Scheme active farmer rules referred to in this leaflet.

Business activity

Businesses operating certain non-agricultural activities (sometimes called the ‘negative list’) won’t be able to apply for the Basic Payment Scheme, unless they can prove they meet one of the ‘readmission criteria’.

Applicants will need to meet the rules set in the part of the UK where most of their land is, and will need to show they meet these rules through the paying agency for that part of the UK.

Some re-admission criteria are based on the amount of eligible land a farmer has. This is all the land on a farmer’s holding (covering all land in the UK).

If a farmer doesn’t meet the active farmer rules, they won’t be able to claim on any of their land, apply for entitlements or receive transferred entitlements, anywhere in the UK.

Example
A farmer with most of his land in Scotland but some land in England:

- must read the ‘negative list’ of business activities listed in the Basic Payment Scheme guidance for Scotland; and

- if they are operating one of these business activities anywhere in the UK, they must meet the readmission criteria that apply in Scotland

They must send any evidence to show they meet the readmission criteria to the paying agency in Scotland. That evidence must relate to the farmer’s whole holding. For example, evidence using agricultural receipts across the UK

Naturally kept land

There is no designated ‘naturally kept land’ in England or Northern Ireland.

In Scotland, ‘naturally kept land’ is considered to be all land located in Payment Regions Two and Three (read Scotland’s Basic Payment Scheme guidance for details of those regions).

In Wales, salt marshes and coastal sand dunes are considered to be ‘naturally kept land’.

Farmers with ‘naturally kept’ land in Scotland or Wales won’t be able to apply for Basic Payment Scheme for land anywhere in the UK if:

  • their naturally kept land is more than 50 per cent of the agricultural land on their holding (including any agricultural land in other parts of the UK); and
  • on their naturally kept land they don’t carry out the minimum activity set out in the scheme guidance for Scotland (for naturally)

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Each part of the UK has different Basic Payment Scheme entitlements. To claim Basic Payment Scheme, farmers must have the right number and type of entitlements for their land.

Example
A farmer has 20 hectares of eligible land in the Scottish Basic Payment Scheme Payment Region one and 10 hectares of eligible land in the English moorland region.

To receive a Basic Payment Scheme payment on all their eligible land, the farmer would need:

- 20 entitlements for Scottish Basic Payment Scheme Payment Region one, and

- 10 entitlements for the English moorland region.

In England, Single Farm Payment entitlements automatically became Basic Payment Scheme entitlements on 1 January 2015.

In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, farmers have to apply for new Basic Payment Scheme entitlements as part of their 2015 Basic Payment Scheme application.

Only farmers who successfully applied for the Single Payment Scheme or the Single Farm Payment (or the Scottish Beef Scheme) anywhere in the UK in 2013 will get entitlements.

However, there are some exceptions to this 2013 requirement – information about these can be found in the scheme guidance for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In addition, farmers may be able to apply for entitlements from a national reserve (see below).

Applying for Basic Payment Scheme entitlements from a national reserve

England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each have a national reserve (sometimes referred to as a ‘regional reserve’).

Some farmers, such as new and young farmers, will be able to apply for Basic Payment Scheme entitlements from these national reserves.

To obtain more entitlements, eligible farmers need to apply for them to all the paying agencies where they:

  • have eligible land; and
  • wish to be allocated more entitlements

Example
A farmer has eligible land in England, Wales and Scotland and wants to apply to the national reserve for entitlements in Wales and Scotland. They need to apply to the paying agencies for Wales and Scotland.

The same principle applies if eligible farmers with entitlements in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales wish to apply to the national reserve to have the value of these entitlements increased to the regional average entitlements value.

The farmer also needs to meet the rules for the national reserve set in the part of the UK in which they are applying.

For example, farmers applying to the national reserve in Northern Ireland need to have a level two qualification in agriculture (or a related subject containing at least one farm business management module) to be eligible for an allocation of entitlements from the national reserve in relation to any land in Northern Ireland.

Example
A young farmer:

- has 15 hectares of eligible land in the English moorland region, and they already hold 10 entitlements in this same region; and

- has 12 hectares of eligible land in Scottish Payment Region one, but wouldn’t be allocated any entitlements in this region because they didn’t claim Single Payment Scheme or Single Farm Payment(or the Scottish Beef Scheme) anywhere in the UK in 2013

They could apply to the paying agency in England and the paying agency in Scotland for new entitlements from the national reserve. They would be allocated five additional English moorland entitlements and 12 entitlements for Scottish Payment Region one.

When to apply for Basic Payment Scheme entitlements

To avoid a penalty, paying agencies must have received entitlement applications and the relevant supporting evidence by the application deadline set by the paying agency which is paying them.

Read the guidance for each part of the UK for information about application deadlines – see above.

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Farmers must meet the minimum claim size set by the part of the UK where most of the land on their holding is located. The minimum claim sizes are shown below.

If farmers don’t meet the relevant minimum claim size, they can’t claim for land anywhere in the UK.

Minimum claim size
England Five hectares
Scotland Three hectares
Wales Three hectares (or €100 for farmers claiming voluntary coupled support)
Northern Ireland Five hectares

Example – meeting the minimum claim size in Scotland
Most of the land on a farmer’s holding is in Scotland. This means that the minimum claim size they need to meet is three hectares. The farmer must claim for at least three eligible hectares (with three entitlements) in total across the UK.

If the farmer doesn’t claim for at least three eligible hectares, they can’t claim for Basic Payment Scheme anywhere in the UK.

Some farmers may find themselves on the threshold of the minimum claim size. The examples below show how to work out if a farmer is meeting the minimum claim size.

Example
A farmer has a five hectare holding. They claim for five hectares of eligible land: three hectares in England and two hectares in Wales (with the right entitlements to support them)

Most of the land on this farmer’s holding is in England, so they must meet the minimum claim size under the Basic Payment Scheme rules set by England (five hectares). Their claim will be accepted as they have claimed on a total of five eligible hectares (with five entitlements).

Example
A farmer has a three hectare holding. They claim for three hectares of eligible land: two hectares in England and one hectare in Scotland (with the right entitlements to support them).

Most of the land on this farmer’s holding is in England so they must meet the minimum claim size under the Basic Payment Scheme rules for England (five hectares). Their claim will not be accepted as they have claimed on a total of only three eligible hectares (with three entitlements). They will not be paid on the Basic Payment Scheme anywhere in the UK.

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If a farmer is 40 years old or younger in the year of their first Basic Payment Scheme application, they may be eligible for a young farmer payment. Applicants will need to apply in each part of the UK where they want to receive this payment.

The Young Farmer payment is a top-up payment made on the number of eligible hectares (with entitlements) a farmer uses to claim Basic Payment Scheme.

The Young Farmer payment works differently in different parts of the UK (see table below).

  Can get the Young Farmer payment on: Minimum age to apply:
England Up to 90 hectares 18 years old
Northern Ireland Up to 90 hectares No minimum
Scotland Up to 90 hectares 16 years old
Wales Up to 25 hectares 16 years old for sole traders and partnerships

18 years old for limited companies

The payment is first made for whichever part of the UK the farmer claims most eligible land (with entitlements). This can’t exceed the maximum set in that part of the UK (see table above.)

If the farmer has claimed less than 90 eligible hectares (with entitlements) there, they could also receive the payment in other parts of the UK – as long as they do not exceed the maximum that applies in those other parts of the UK.

A young farmer can’t receive a payment on more than a total of 90 hectares (with entitlements) for their holding (land in all parts of the UK).

Example
A young farmer has claimed 80 eligible hectares (with entitlements) in England and 20 eligible hectares (with entitlements) in Scotland.

As most of their claimed land is in England, that is used first for the Young Farmer payment. They can receive the payment on all 80 hectares in England. As this is less than the overall maximum of 90 hectares, they can also receive the payment on 10 hectares in Scotland, not the full 20 hectares the farmer applied for. This gives a total of 90 hectares.

Example
A young farmer has claimed 80 eligible hectares (with entitlements) in Wales and 70 eligible hectares (with entitlements) in England.

As most of their claimed land is in Wales, that is used first for the Young Farmer payment. They can receive the payment on 25 hectares in Wales (the maximum set in Wales). As this is less than the overall maximum of 90 hectares, they can also receive the payment on 65 hectares in England. This gives a total of 90 hectares.

Example
A young farmer has claimed 50 eligible hectares (with entitlements) in England and 30 eligible hectares (with entitlements) in Wales.

As most of their claimed land is in England, that is used first for the Young Farmer payment. They can receive the payment on all 50 hectares in England. As this is less than the overall maximum of 90 hectares, they can also receive the payment on 25 hectares in Wales (the maximum set in Wales). This gives a total of 75 hectares.

Farmers applying for the Young Farmer payment in Northern Ireland need to have a level two qualification in agriculture (or a related subject containing at least one farm business management module) to be eligible for the payment on any land in Northern Ireland.

Read the guidance for each part of the UK for more information – see above.

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The land used to claim BPS payments must meet the rules that apply in the part of the UK where the land is located. Read the guidance for each part of the UK for more information – see above.

Farmers need to meet the greening rules on crop diversification and ecological focus areas (EFAs) at a ‘holding’ level, not separately for land in each part of the UK.

This means that they need to include all of the land on their holding (covering all land in the UK) when working out:

  • what their crop diversification and EFA requirement is; and
  • whether they meet those requirements

Farmers should also include all of their holding (covering all their land in the UK) when working out if they can use any of the greening exemptions. The greening exemptions are the same across the UK for crop diversification and EFAs.

Read the guidance for each part of the UK for more information – see above.

What this means for the crop diversification rules

The crop diversification rules prescribe how many crops a farmer must grow and over what percentage of their arable land.

A farmer should include all of the eligible land on their holding (covering all their land in the UK) to work out:

  • their arable area
  • the percentage of their arable area taken up by each crop; and
  • whether any of the crop diversification exemptions apply to them

A farmer doesn’t have to have the required number, and shares, of crops in each part of the UK they have land – they only need to meet the crop diversification rules across their holding as a whole.

Example
A farmer has more than 30 hectares of arable land (which includes land in England and Wales). They would need three crops to meet the crop diversification rules.

In this case, the main crop can’t cover more than 75 per cent of their arable land and the two main crops can’t cover more than 95 per cent of their arable land.

They plant as follows:

- main crop (65 per cent) in England

- 2nd crop (25 per cent) in England

- 3rd crop (10 per cent) in Wales

They would meet the crop diversification rules for their holding (covering all their land in the UK).

Each part of the UK has lists of crops that qualify under crop diversification. Farmers need to use the lists that apply where their land is located.

What this means for Ecological Focus Areas

Farmers with more than 15 hectares of arable land also need to have EFAs that are the equivalent to at least five per cent of their arable land, unless they qualify for an exemption. Read the guidance for each part of the UK for more information on the exemptions – see above.

A farmer should use all the eligible land on their holding (covering all their land in the UK) to work out:

  • their arable land;
  • their five per cent EFA requirement; and
  • whether any of the EFA exemptions apply

Farmers can use areas and / or features on any part of their holding (in any part of the UK) to meet the five per cent EFA requirement.

This means that a farmer doesn’t have to meet the five per cent in each part of the UK they have land – they only need to meet it across their holding as a whole.

A farmer must meet the EFA rules that apply in the part of the UK where the land or feature being used for EFA is located.

There are differences in which areas and features a farmer can use for EFA in each part of the UK. There are also differences in what areas and features are worth as part of EFA.

The table below shows which features and areas can be used in each part of the UK.

Type of EFA England Northern
Ireland
Scotland Wales
Fallow land Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hedges Yes Yes   Yes
Field margins     Yes  
Ditches   Yes    
Traditional stone walls   Yes   Yes
Earth banks   Yes    
Archaeological features   Yes    
Buffer strips Yes   Yes  
Agro-forestry   Yes    
Catch crops or green cover Yes   Yes  
Short rotation coppice   Yes   Yes
Afforested areas   Yes   Yes
Nitrogen-fixing crops Yes Yes Yes Yes

Example
A farmer’s holding includes land in England and Wales. They could use areas or features on their English land, their Welsh land or both to count towards their five per cent EFA requirement.

The farmer could choose to use a catch crop on their English land to meet the requirement, but couldn’t use a catch crop on their Welsh land.

Permanent grassland

Farmers must meet the rules that apply in the part of the UK where their permanent grassland is located. Read the guidance for each part of the UK for more information – see above.

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Farmers need to meet the cross compliance rules that apply in the part of the UK where the land, or livestock, is located.

Read the guidance for each part of the UK for more information – see above.

If a farmer’s 2015 Basic Payment Scheme payment (excluding the Greening payment and any Young Farmer payment) is more than €150,000, the amount over €150,000 will be reduced.

The table below shows the reductions that apply in different parts of the UK:

Reductions
England Amounts over €150,000 will be reduced by five per cent
Northern Ireland Amounts over €150,000 will be reduced by 100 per cent
Scotland Amounts over €150,000 will be reduced by five per cent
Wales Amounts:

- over €150,000 and up to €200,000 will be reduced by 15 per cent
- over €200,000 and up to €250,000 will be reduced by 30 per cent
- over €250,000 and up to €300,000 will be reduced by 55 per cent
- over €300,000 will be reduced by 10 per cent

Reductions are worked out based on the proportion of the total value of entitlements a farmer has used to claim payment in each part of the UK. Then the reduction rates above are applied.

The example below shows how reductions are worked out.

Example
A farmer’s Basic Payment Scheme payment (excluding Greening and any Young Farmer payment) would be €250,000. Out of the total value of the farmer’s entitlements used to claim payment:

- 25 per cent of the total value of entitlements were used in Northern Ireland

- 75 per cent of the total value of entitlements were used in Scotland

Therefore €100,000 (the amount over €150,000) will be reduced as follows:

- 25 per cent under reduction rates for Northern Ireland

- 75 per cent under reduction rates for Scotland

Northern Ireland:

Multiply the amount to be reduced (€100,000) by the share of the value of entitlements to be used in Northern Ireland (25 per cent). Then multiply the answer by the reduction rate for Northern Ireland (100%).

€100,000 x 0.25 x 1 = €25,000.

For entitlements in Northern Ireland the payment is reduced by €25,000

Scotland:

Multiply the amount to be reduced (€100,000) by the share of the value of entitlements used in Scotland (75 per cent). Then multiply the answer by the reduction rate for Scotland (five per cent).

€100,000 x 0.75 x 0.05 = €3,750.

For entitlements in Scotland the payment is reduced by €3,750

Total reduced payment:

Original payment: €250,000

Minus the reduction for Northern Ireland: €25,000

Minus the reduction for Scotland: €3,750

Total Basic Payment Scheme payment (excluding Greening and any Young Farmer payment): €221,250

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If a farmer doesn’t meet the scheme rules, reductions and penalties may be applied. They may be applied if a farmer:

  • makes an application for payment or application for entitlements late
  • makes certain changes to their application after the deadline
  • doesn’t meet the scheme eligibility, Greening or Cross Compliance rules; or
  • doesn’t declare all of their agricultural land parcels

All of the land on a farmer’s holding (covering all their land in the UK) is treated together for the purposes of calculating reductions and penalties. For scheme year 2020, England and Northern Ireland have changed the penalty calculation used for a small overclaim. When Scotland is the paying agency, RPID will continue to calculate penalties as set out in the BPS scheme guidance.

More details about reductions and penalties are available in the scheme guidance for each part of the UK – see above for more information.

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