NI:Countdown to deadline for SFP entitlements transfer

The deadline for submitting applications in Northern Ireland to transfer Single Farm Payment (SFP) entitlements for 2014 is fast approaching.

The closing date for the receipt of applications to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in Northern Ireland is  Tuesday 2 May 2014. Applications received after that date will not be accepted and the transfer will not take place.

While detailed CAP reform rules have not yet been finalised, a number of policy decisions on CAP reform implementation have now been taken. It has been decided that existing entitlements will be abolished and reallocated from 2015 and this means that after 2 May 2014, there will be no further trading of entitlements until the 2016 scheme year.

DARD has written to those administering the estates where a farm business holds SFP entitlements to provide advice on transferring the entitlements, whether or not probate has been cleared and options available if the intended beneficiary is unlikely to meet the active farmer requirements from 2015.

Applications to transfer entitlements will be accepted if probate has not been cleared, providing that the parties involved indemnify DARD against any future adverse consequences that may arise from the outcome of probate or otherwise.

It is important that executors consider the advice that has been provided. If an application to transfer the entitlements is not received by 2 May 2014, the entitlements will remain with the estate and if the inheritor does not meet the requirements to be allocated entitlements in 2015, the entitlements will be lost to that person. Particular consideration needs to be given as to whether the inheritor will meet the active farmer provisions in 2015.

Farm businesses that transfer entitlements do so at their own risk and those transferring entitlements should note that, as the transferor of the entitlements, they will no longer get paid in 2014 on any entitlements they transfer from their business. It will only be the transferee (that is, the business receiving the entitlements) that can get paid SFP on those entitlements if they have sufficient eligible land to claim them.

The 2014 Single Application Form should be completed on the basis that the transfer of entitlements will proceed as notified if no confirmation of the acceptance of the transfer has been received from DARD in advance. However, the risk of entitlements not being activated in 2014 should the transfer not be accepted by DARD lies entirely with the parties engaging in the transfer.

To reduce the prospect of a transfer application being rejected, every care should be taken to complete the transfer application form correctly. Also it is advisable that the transferee should have a DARD category 1 Business ID prior to the submission of the application and in cases where an Enforcement of Judgments Order is in place against a business, permission to transfer entitlements should be sort from the Court, again, ideally, prior to the submission of the transfer application.

If the value of the SFP entitlements held by a business is less than €100, the business may choose to buy or lease additional entitlements to increase the total value of entitlements it could activate in 2014 to above €100. Farmers will also need to ensure they have sufficient land, either owned, leased or taken in conacre, to activate these additional entitlements. If a farm business doesn’t have enough land to activate all its entitlements, it may choose to sell or lease its entitlements to another farmer.

Completed applications to transfer SFP entitlements for the 2014 scheme year should be returned to SFP Branch, Trading/Entitlements Section, Orchard House, 40 Foyle Street, Derry/Londonderry BT48 6AT, no later than the 2 May 2014.

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