Some of the most notable changes under the BISS (Basic Income Support for Sustainability) are the capping of payments, meeting active farmer requirements and land eligibility.
That is according to Mary Carey, principal officer of the Direct Payments Division at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, who spoke as part of its new CAP schemes webinar on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023.
The BISS (Basic Income Support for Sustainability), she told viewers of the virtual information session, is the BPS’ replacement in the new Common Agricultural Policy and is “the largest part” of a farm’s direct payments, in most cases.
To draw down a payment under the BISS, you must have an eligible hectare to accompany each payment entitlement.
“The basic principle is the same in that you must have one eligible hectare of land declared in order to draw down payment for one eligible BISS payment entitlement,” she explained.
“The first main important point on capping is that the maximum payment will effectively be €66,000.”
“This is in order to ensure equitable payment, and there are no significant payments going to a small number of farmers.”
“Capping is only on BISS payment entitlements, so for all of the other schemes, it does not apply.”
“Another important point is that there is no deduction of salaries,” she added.
Active farmer requirement
Meanwhile, the active farmer check is essentially to ensure that the person receving the scheme payments is the one “farming the land or taking the agricultural risk with the land being claimed”.
A farmer can satisfy the active farmer check in a number of ways:
- Meet a minimum stocking level of 0.10 LU/ha (in 2022 or 2023);
- Alternatively, engage in other farming activities – producing crops, cutting hay/silage, topping, maintaining landscape features, ect.
She explained: “A farmer does not have to maintain stock. Stock is just one of the options available to farmers as there is a range of agricultural activities that can be undertaken in order to satisfy the active farmer check.”
On the online application, this will be the first screen that will be available to farmers.
If farmers are not automatically deemed as active by the DAFM, based on their stocking rate, they will need to select the alternative farming activity they are carrying out.
If the agricultural activity (for example, farmers with forestry eligible only) they are carrying out is not covered in the options, they can insert this into the ‘other’ section.
On the foot of this, the DAFM may request additional information to support the farmer’s proposed agricultural activity.
How to apply
In addition to explaining various requirements and changes, Carey outlined the application process protocol as follows:
To apply for the BISS, you, as a farmer, can do so online on www.agfood.ie, or you can appoint a FAS (Farm Advisory Service) approved advisor to submit an application on your behalf.
You can find a list of over 800 DAFM FAS-approved advisors, which was last updated by the body on March 3rd, 2023, through this link.
When making the application yourself, log onto AgFood’s online services – agfood.ie
- Enter your username (provided by the DAFM at the point of registration);
- Input the 3 requested digits from your 7-strong PAC (Personal Access Code);
- Enter your password;
- Click ‘logon’;
- Then, go to the authorised applications section on the page and click BISS – Basic Income Support for Sustainability;
- A number of screens will then appear;
- These will include active farmer, scheme selection, land details, islands (if applicable), GAEC 8, Eco-Scheme, ACRES (if applicable), SIM (if applicable) and then a review and submit screen;
- Important that you apply for the schemes that you wish to enter correctly – will highlight in green. White – you have not applied for the scheme.
Schemes on the BISS – other area-based schemes:
Farmers can apply online on the BISS application system for the following schemes:
- BISS – Basic Income Support for Sustainability;
- ANC – Areas of National Constraints;
- CRISS – Complementary Redistributive Income Support for Sustainability;
- Protein Aid;
- SIM – Straw Incorporation Measure;
- CIS-YF – Complementary Income Support for Young Farmers;
- OFS – Organic Farming Scheme;
- Annual claims for ACRES (Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme).
The closing date for BISS applications will be midnight on Monday, May 29th, 2023, as previously confirmed by the DAFM and reported by That’s Farming in this news article.