ACA members involved in 55,000 BPS applications

Members of the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) were involved in some 55,000 Basic Payments Scheme (BPS) applications on behalf of farmer clients for this year’s scheme.

This is out of a total number of applications received by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine of 129,006.

Tom Canning, the president of the ACA, argued that submitting these applications was a “colossal achievement” against the backdrop of the Covid-19 restrictions, which was a “once in a lifetime situation”.

We were entering the unknown at the end of March and wondering if it was possible for all BPS applications and related work to be submitted on time.

ACA consultants had also been engaging with their farmer clients on the criteria for the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot – Sucklers (BEEP-S) scheme.

Canning noted that there was good interest in the National Reserve and the Young Farmer Scheme, with ACA members reporting similar numbers of applicants as 2019 for both schemes.

Consultants observed an increased interest from farmer clients on farm management queries, especially with regard to advice on reseeding, lime applications and spraying management. Health and safety issues also became a frequent topic of discussion between consultants and farmers, particularly in recent weeks, Canning said.

This was an extremely unusual number of weeks with no direct face-to-face contact with clients. This time of year is a great opportunity to have social interaction, meetings and discussions with our farmer clients and, despite the restrictions, we managed to still have close contact through phone calls and emails.

The ACA president went on to acknowledge the support provided to consultants by the department in dealing with the restrictions, and also acknowledged agricultural media in the ACA’s efforts to communicate with farmers.

Final amendments to BPS applications can be made up until this Sunday, May 31.

BPS and BEEP-S application figures

In total, the department received 129,006 applications for the BPS. This figure is almost identical to the number of applications received for the 2019 BPS, which was 128,992 (around 122,000 of whom received payments).

Meanwhile, 27,072 applications were received for BEEP-S. This compares to approximately 19,000 applications for the original BEEP scheme last year (a higher potential level of total payment is available in the BEEP-S scheme).