Herd number applications have a major impact on schemes farmers are in – and as such, planning in advance is essential, according to Teagasc.
Andy Ryder, a drystock advisor based at Teagasc Westport, recently explained the impact herd number applications and changes can have on schemes such as the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC), Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) and forestry schemes.
With these schemes making a big difference to farmers’ pockets, people must not leave herd number changes until the last minute, he stressed.
Ryder noted what herd number queries he usually receives at this time of year, ranging from new applicants to farmers with existing herd numbers seeking to change the name or add a name to the herd number.
First off, the advisor looked at the process itself, stating: “The application process is simple. Each applicant has to fill out two forms called ER1 and ER1.1. These are then submitted along with ownership or lease agreements of the land that each applicant is going to farm.
“Usually, a farm inspection occurs after the application is processed to assess the farm and the housing and handling facilities.”
Covid-19 has of course had an impact, with some applications taking longer than normal to get approved. As such, he noted that this needs to be taken into account when applying.
Ryder highlighted that most herd number applicants will also be applying for Basic Farm Payment Scheme.
“Some will need to transfer entitlements; others apply for the Young Farmer’s Scheme. All Basic Payment applications must be completed before May 17,” he said.
“It will benefit the application process if the herd number is in place, enabling all applications to be completed correctly and on time.
Existing GLAS applicants must notify the GLAS section and look for approval prior to any change in herd number applicant details. Failure to do this could result in termination of the scheme.
This is very simple to do but is often overlooked and could be a very costly mistake,” he warned.
Turning to the ANC scheme, the advisor underlined the requirement for an annual stocking rate of 0.15LU/ha.
“The later in the year that the herd number has been applied for, the more stock that will need to be moved on to the herd,” he said.
Other herd number applicants who do not move stock in on time once they receive the herd number may fail to receive this payment, he cautioned.
Forestry is another area where farmers must be careful to avoid pitfalls, Ryder said, explaining:
“In some cases, forestry payments to forestry owners were stopped, where the herd number has been transferred to another person without transferring the forestry.
“Seek advice before changing the herd number where there is forestry payments on the farm.
Due to the additional checks to be carried out on new applicants, payments may be delayed if the information required is not fully submitted, such as proof of right to claim land, insufficient stock, bank account details.
“This delay can put strain on cash flow on the farm particularly when all bills need to be paid in the autumn,” he warned.
Finally, the advisor urged farmers to have a plan in place for how you are going to source animals, the type required and the numbers required.
Spring and early summer is an expensive time to buy animals. If you are looking to breed these animals, look to source them from herds or flocks with good health status if possible.
“There are plenty of advisors with years of experience available to point you in the right direction. The Basic Payment online system is now open and farmers can now submit their applications online,” he concluded.