Growers could receive £150 per hectare under new SPS policy

Changes to the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) mean that land under permanent fruit and vegetable production (including commercial orchards, nursery crops and vines) could receive £150 per hectare from 2010.

To apply for the new entitlements, grower businesses, including commercial orchard operations, are being encouraged to register interest as soon as possible before the 31 December deadline.

Rural business consultant David Knight of Knight Tustian in Kent notes that orchard owners have been slow to respond to the changes and he is urging growers to submit interest ahead of the 31 December closing date.

He said: "At approximately EUR230 per hectare it should be worth about £150 per hectare - money well worth having - the exact sum depends on the exchange rate nearer the time.

"It is important for interest to be registered with the Rural Payments Agency in order for growers to receive details of how to register land in 2009 in order to receive payments in 2010.

"The first payment will probably be around Christmas 2010 or later, based on application form SP5, which needs to be submitted by 17 May 2010.

"Before this, growers will have received a new entitlements application in June 2009, which needs to be returned to the RPA by mid-August next year."

- For full information on the application process, visit the Rural Payments Agency website

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