14. Active farming - undertaking agricultural activity
An important part of being eligible to apply for the Basic Payment Scheme, is being able to meet the requirements of being a 'farmer' who undertakes an 'agricultural activity'. These separate but related requirements are explained below.
You must meet the legal definition of a 'farmer' to participate in Basic Payment Scheme. For this purpose, a farmer is a natural or legal person (or a group of natural or legal persons) whose holding (production units) are situated within Scotland (although you may also have holdings elsewhere in the UK).
You might not be classed as an Active Farmer if your business operates any of the following:
- railway services
- real estate services
- permanent sport and recreational grounds
Even if your business operates one of these activities, you will still be classed as a farmer if you meet certain rules.
You must also exercise an agricultural activity. An agricultural activity can include the production, rearing or growing of agricultural products, including harvesting, milking, breeding animals and keeping animals for farming purposes.
If you have land which is naturally kept in a state suitable for cultivation and grazing (essentially all land in Payment Regions two and three) and it represents more than half of your holding (inclusive of any seasonal land) you must also meet rules on exercising a minimum activity.
Under the Single Farm Payment Scheme, a farmer had to declare eligible hectares to receive payment. 'Eligible' in this context meant arable land, permanent pasture and land used to grow permanent crops that as a minimum was maintained in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition. This allowed claimants to receive income support regardless of undertaking an agricultural activity in the sense of growing crops or keeping livestock.
The Direct Payment regime, in respect of the Basic Payment, is radically different. The aim is to ensure that income support is only delivered to those undertaking a minimum agricultural activity on eligible land. These related concepts and their relationship to a claim for Basic Payment are explained in the following paragraphs.