Category Archives: Farm Matters Ltd

No Basic Payment Scheme Software!

Farm SoftwareWe are very sad to announce we will not be releasing any software for the electronic submission of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications in 2015. DEFRA in their wisdom have decided to exclude us from the electronic BPS project this year due to what they claim is a lack of financial resources.

This will leave the DEFRA website as the sole means of submitting your 2015 BPS claim (For those unable to submit online DEFRA claim there will be a contingency but what form this will take remains a mystery). After piloting electronic SPS in 2008, it’s inaugural year, we have consistently been involved with e-SPS and submitted the most claims by a third party software supplier each year.

Our customer base have been very supportive of the software and service we’ve provided and are very disappointed by DEFRAs decision to exclude us. As several customers have said, let’s hope the new system being developed is alot more reliable then RPAs was last year.

DEFRA have indicated they will be happy to work with us next year in preparation for 2016. Hopefully this is true and we will be back!

Single Payment Scheme – The End

Single Payment Supervisor The submission deadline passed on 15th May with the final deadline of 9th June quickly approaching. Anyone who has not submitted a claim should do so as a matter of urgency, the penalties are relatively small at 1% of your payment per day late. This year spells the end of the Single Payment Scheme as the new Basic Payment Scheme will finally come into operation.

Initially introduced in 2005 the Single Payment Scheme replaced the many and varied existing subsidy schemes. The scheme saw a gradual transition from payment based on production to payment based on hectares. Some farmers saw there subsidy increase while other saw it reduce over the years, but one thing all agreed was that the new scheme was simpler than it’s predecessors. In 2008 an electronic submission method was trialled with ourselves submitting the first ever SPS application using our Single Payment Supervisor software. RPA have encouraged adoption of online services over the last six years with 2014 seeing a high proportion of SPS submissions being made electronically. Despite the serious technical problems encountered by RPA this year, online services have (in our estimation at least) been a success in helping to improve the efficiency of RPA and offering the modern tools expected by farmers & land agents these days.

Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), with it’s Digital by Default policy, Identity Assurance approach and new rules promises to be as different as it is familiar. We are working alongside RPA to develop our software package ready for the challenges of BPS. This year saw ~3.5% of the nation’s submissions made using our software, we hope to continue our tradition of being at the forefront of electronic subsidy submissions.

Good bye Single Payment Scheme,
Hello Basic Payment Scheme.

Single Payment 2014 underway

Yesterday saw the SPS e-Channel go live for 2014. This is six days earlier than RPA have ever gone live before giving farmers and land agents longer to complete their applications. As usual you have until 15th May to complete all your applications without penalty.

Our Single Payment Supervisor software has already been used to download hundreds of forms, with a few early birds having submitted applications too. As with previous years our software is significantly faster than using SPS Online and offers a host of other features.

If you are struggling with your Single Payment Scheme application or want piece of mind that it has been completed correctly we recommend you get professional advice from a reputable land agent such as Countryside Consulting Ltd (01409 281 038).

The horse meat scandal – every cloud has a silver lining!

The horse meat scandal has been trotting (sorry!) on for a week now with the source appearing to be Romania. Some people are speculating this is the fallout of a law in Romania banning horses from roads. In the UK this has resulted in the reputation of companies such as Tesco and Findus taking a hit and reduced confidence in processed beef products.

So where is the silver lining? With consumer confidence in processed beef low they are looking to get there meat from closer to the source. This means local butchers and farm shops with some farm shops reporting an upsurge in beef sales of up to 30%. It is nice to see small businesses taking some of their custom back from the large supermarkets (let’s hope it continues).

 

Single Payment Supervisor faster than SPS Online?

Single Payment SupervisorIn 2012 we analysed sixteen Single Payment Scheme claims (we know it isn’t exactly a major study but we did at least vary the complexity of the claims) comparing how long they took to complete on paper compared to using Single Payment Supervisor and found it was 48.2% faster using our software.

We had hoped to compare Single Payment Supervisor to SPS Online but time wasn’t on our side, however we managed three comparisons. Please note this is definitely too small a sample group to draw solid conclusions! The tests involved completing the claims but not actually submitting them.

On average Single Payment Supervisor was 28.6% faster than SPS Online. This was due to the significantly better responsiveness of Single Payment Supervisor. With SPS Online a lot of time was spent refreshing web pages (Note we used a high speed 20Mb Internet connection).

Once again we must stress that this is too small a sample group from which to draw firm conclusions. That being said the evidence here does support the feedback we have received from customers that our software if faster (and easier) then SPS Online.

Subclinical ketosis – A growing problem?

I was reading this article about subclinical or hidden ketosis and was surprised to find it suggest an average 30% rate of dairy cows in the UK testing positive with hidden ketosis. The first thing that struck me was the company which commissioned the audit also happens to be selling a product to test for hidden ketosis. Hmm!

Firstly were the cattle tested a fair representation of UK cattle? The audit tested 763 cows of the 2 million dairy cows in the UK from 15 different herds. While I would suggest a wider ranging audit would lend more weight to the results they have tested a reasonable number of cows.

Experts have proposed the prevalence of hidden ketosis within a herd can be influenced by season. The audit was conducted between July 2011 and January 2012 meaning the entire spring season was omitted. Whether this makes a difference is hard to judge until a consensus is reached by experts on the seasonal effects.

Finally I investigated the BHBA testing threshold for testing positive. In the Elanco audit they used a threshold of 1000-1400 µmol/litre. The lower end of this threshold is quite a low compared that proposed by other sources which suggest 1200 µmol/litre[1], 1400 µmol/litre[2], 1200 µmol/litre[3], 1400 µmol/litre[4]. This would in theory produce results with increased positive tests.

One thing however that appears to be undoubted is that hidden ketosis is a real problem! Correctly monitoring your dairy herd is important from both a welfare and financial perspective.

Single Payment Scheme Application Period

Single Payment Supervisor

It’s approaching that time of year again (so soon!) where farmers must make they Single Payment Scheme subsidy claim. Land agents are run off their feet and farmers are panicking about making a correct submission. We now understand from RPA that the application period will open on the 26th February (assuming testing doesn’t highlight any issues).

Every year we have our keen Single Payment Supervisor users desperately wanting to know how soon before they can download and submit their SP5 forms. We thought we could investigate how long the submission period has been over the last five years.

2013: 26th February – 15th May (79 days)
2012: 28th February – 15th May (78 days)
2011: 1st March – 16th May (77 days)
2010: 15th March – 17th May (64 days)
2009: 4th March – 15th May (73 days)

Well the results are in and it’s good news. Each year, 2010 excepted, the period in which to make your Single Payment Scheme submission is increasing with six more days available this year than in 2009, an increase of 8%. For the individual farmer this probably doesn’t make too much difference in submitting their one or two applications, however for a land agent filling in dozens if not hundreds of these important claims those extra days are crucial. In conclusion we congratulate RPA on moving in the right direction!