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Leaving the EU with no deal - will I still get my 2019 BPS payment?

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In this short article, our Head of Agriculture, Julie Robinson, takes a look at what happens to UK farmers’ right to direct payments under the CAP if we leave the EU without a deal on 12 April.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 12 April, the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy will cease to apply in the UK.

That may well bring shouts of hooray from farmers exasperated with tedious form filling, declaring field areas to four decimal places and the three-crop rule. But what of 2019 BPS claims?

Direct payments under the CAP were protected under the EU/UK Withdrawal Agreement, at least for 2019[i]; farmers would submit their claims by 15 May in the usual way and payments would be made from EU funds[ii]. Claims would be covered by Regulation (EU) 1307/2013 and related legislation.

Leaving without a deal will change that. There will be a ‘settling’ of accounts between the UK and the EU, with the UK seeking re-imbursement of relevant direct payments made to claimants up to 12 April 2019. After that date, direct payments will be paid directly by HM Treasury.

As we know, the Government has committed to maintain the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of the current Parliament. That was expected to be 2022; some fear we may now see a general election well before then.

At a technical level, by virtue of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, CAP direct payment regulations are retained in UK law as from exit day, whenever that is. A raft of statutory instruments has recently been introduced making the necessary technical changes to the EU ‘retained’ regulations to ensure that direct payments can be delivered by UK authorities. Farmers will complete the same form and be under the same cross-compliance and greening rules as they would have been had we stayed in the EU. The difference is that those rules are now derived from UK rather than EU law.

That is the position for 2019; everything is in place to cover a no-deal exit. From 2020 we may see some minor technical changes to BPS rules, although nothing drastic is on the cards. If a new government is in place by 2020 funding levels may not be maintained; that will be in the gift of the new government.

If you have any queries about how Brexit may impact on your farm business, please do get in touch with Julie Robinson on 01480 587460 or with your usual Roythornes contact.

[i] Article 137 (1)

[ii] Direct payments are made from the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (Pillar 1)