Countdown to 2 April 2014 deadline for SFP entitlements transfer

The deadline for submitting applications 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 Wednesday 2 April 2014. Applications received after 2 April 2014 will not be accepted and the transfer will not take place.

As part of CAP Reform, a decision will be taken as to whether existing entitlements should be retained or abolished and reallocated, according to a statement from DARD this morning.

“There will be no further trading of entitlements after 2 April 2014 until this decision is made. If it is decided to abolish and reallocate entitlements in 2015, there will be no further trading of entitlements until the 2016 scheme year,” it said.

Farmers should be aware that detailed CAP reform rules have not yet been finalised and major policy decisions on CAP reform implementation have still to be taken, it added.

DARD advise that farm businesses that transfer entitlements do so at their own risk.

“Any farmer who wants to transfer entitlements for the 2014 scheme year is urged to submit transfer applications well in advance of the 2 April deadline. This will help any related queries to be resolved more quickly and, if necessary, allow time for a revised transfer application to be submitted before the deadline. An early request to transfer SFP entitlements should reduce the risk of any complications in the completion of 2014 Single Application Forms.”

It continued: “Farm businesses that are 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. If the entitlements that are being transferred have not been activated in 2013, they must be activated in 2014 or they will be confiscated.”

In addition, DARD advises that it is important that farmers who have inherited SFP entitlements make sure that, as soon as probate has been cleared, the executor or personal representative for the deceased’s estate submits an application to the department to transfer the entitlements to the beneficiary, no later than the 2 April 2014.

Applicants need to be registered and approved by DARD as a Category 1 Farm Business before they can receive SFP entitlements by transfer. Those wishing to transfer entitlements, but who are not already registered with the department as a farm business should contact their local DARD Office for advice in the first instance. Where appropriate, an application (Form FB1) to register as a farm business should be completed and submitted to the department.

According to DARD, 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 BT48 6AT, no later than the 2 April 2014. Transfer of Entitlement application forms (TE1) and Guidance Booklets are available on request from the Trading/Entitlement Section, Single Farm Payment Branch, Orchard House, Tel: 028 7131 9900.

In addition, DARD said that farmers should be aware of the recent announcement about the reduction in the face value of SFP entitlements. As a result of changes introduced by EU in 2014 until CAP Reform is implemented in 2015, the face value of all SFP entitlements held by farmers in 2014 will be reduced.

While it is estimated that the reduction will be approximately 9.25 per cent, the actual reduction to be applied will be confirmed later in the year, DARD said. At that stage, a farmer who holds the entitlements will be notified of the new unit value of their SFP entitlements, it added.