Under new rules just announced by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), an accountant’s certificate is now required to prove a farmer’s eligibility to claim under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

The European Commission has asked the RPA to carry out the additional checks on claimants who have less that 36ha of land but received more than 5,000 euros in 2016 and have also been inspected in 2017.

According to David Jane, agricultural specialist with Falmouth and Truro-based Lang Bennetts Chartered Accountants, the news has come as a surprise to many in the farming and land management community.

“We’ve had a number of people contacting us about this, worried that they’ll lose their entitlement or that their payment will be delayed if they don’t get the paperwork in on time,” he said. “Most farmers will still qualify but, for those who received more than 5,000 euros last year, the certificate does have to be completed by a professionally qualified accountant.”

A person is deemed to be a non ‘active farmer’ if their land is used as an airport, for rail services, water treatment works, real-estate services or has permanent sport and recreational facilities on it. They may still qualify, however, if it can be proved that agriculture continues to form a significant part of their income.

“The certificate requires us to provide financial information to evidence the agricultural activity being carried out,” said David. “My advice would be to get that certification process underway as quickly as possible.”

For more information and advice, contact David Jane on 01872 272047 or email david.jane@lang-bennetts.co.uk.