In this article, Andy Ryder, a Teagasc advisor, provides advice to farmers who are applying for herd numbers.
This time of year, I get a lot of queries relating to herd number applications, writes Andy Ryder, drystock advisor, Teagasc Westport.
Some are new applicants looking to start farming; some are existing herd numbers looking to change the name or add a name to the herd number.
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 housing and handling facilities.
Applying for herd numbers takes time, so any first-time entrants need to get their housing, handling and possible boundary fencing up to standard now before applying.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, most Department of Agriculture staff, similar to most workers, are working remotely.
This will result in some applications taking longer than normal to get approved, and this needs to be taken into account when applying. Ensure that sufficient time is allowed.
The majority of farmers, who are applying for a herd number, 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 17th. It will benefit the application process if the herd number is in place, enabling all applications to be completed correctly and on time.
Herd number applications and other schemes
Existing GLAS applicants must notify the GLAS section and look for approval before any change in herd number applicant details.
Failure to do this could result in the termination of the scheme. This is very simple to do but is often overlooked and could be a very costly mistake.
To comply with this scheme, you must achieve an annual stocking rate of 0.15 LU per hectare.
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.
Other herd number applicants who do not move stock in on time once they receive the herd number may fail to receive this payment.
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 are 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 a strain on cash flow on the farm, particularly when all bills need to be paid in the autumn.
Have a plan in place for how you are going to source animals and the types and 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.
Advice and information
This is only the start of the journey for potential new farmers; get as much information and advice as 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.