AGRICULTURE and Rural Development Minister, Michelle O’Neill has reminded farmers of the rule governing the activation of Single Farm Payment (SFP) entitlements.
Every farmer has to have an entitlement for each hectare of eligible land on which they wish to claim SFP. The EU regulations require farmers to activate each of their SFP entitlements at least once every two years. If the entitlements are not activated as required, the unused entitlements may be taken from the farm business.
Urging farmers to make sure they complied with the EU requirement, the Minister commented: “In these challenging economic times, it is especially important that farmers maximise their payment of SFP and take any appropriate steps to preserve their full entitlement in the future. My Department will be writing to farmers over the coming days to remind them to check that they are activating each of their SFP entitlements at least once every two years.”
The Minister added that the vast majority of recipients of the reminder letter will not lose any entitlements as the Department automatically activates those entitlements which farm businesses could lose if they are not activated in 2013. She said: “When farmers receive these letters they should check their own individual circumstances and satisfy themselves that they are complying with the rule about activating their entitlements.
“As long as they declare enough eligible hectares to support their SFP claim, my Department will, where possible, automatically activate for them entitlements that might be at risk in 2013.”
Farmers who do not expect to have enough eligible land to activate the entitlements not activated in 2012 may wish to consider transferring these entitlements to another farm business which could activate them in 2013.
Single Farm Payment (SFP) entitlements were first established under European Union Regulations in 2005. If SFP entitlements are not activated (claimed for payment) at least once every two years, they will be taken from the applicant (confiscated) and returned to the National Reserve.
Any entitlements not activated in 2012 must be activated in 2013.
The Department is writing individually to over 10,600 farm businesses, that may be at risk of confiscation, to remind them of the need to comply with this EU rule.
Detailed guidance on transferring (trading) entitlements and transfer application forms are available on request from the Trading Section of SFP Branch in Orchard House.
For a transfer to take effect for the 2013 scheme year, a transfer application must be received by the Department by 2 April 2013.