Guidance: Flooding advice for farmers and land managers

British Cattle Movement Service

April 5
13:24 2022

This guidance is general advice for any farmer and land manager whose land has been flooded. It is not specific to any individual flooding event.

The guidance below covers the following schemes and services:

  • Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)
  • Countryside Stewardship (CS)
  • Environmental Stewardship (ES)
  • Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) Pilot
  • Farm Woodland Premium/English Woodland Grant Scheme
  • Reporting animal movements
  • Cross compliance.

If you think the flooding will affect your ability to meet your agreement requirements or change the area eligible for a scheme in place you should contact us, using the details below, at the earliest opportunity. Please provide us with detail about the flooding issue including the date and time the flooding occurred.

Temporary changes and minor change requests

Flooded agricultural land is still eligible for BPS, and may not affect land in a CS and/or ES agreement, if the flooding is temporary and the land would otherwise still be available for agricultural activity. Please write to us and provide further detail to allow us to assess eligibility.

You should return the land to agricultural use as soon as practically possible and continue to meet the scheme rules or requirements of agreement options on the affected land parcels.

Where flooding means that you cannot temporarily manage your agreement according to the CS or ES option requirements, you can request a minor and temporary adjustment to those requirements.

Read more information about this for Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship.

Once you have filled in the form, you can either post the form to us or you can scan it then email it to us using the subject title Adjustment Request, the scheme you need to request an adjustment for and your Agreement Number.

Permanent changes and force majeure requests

Where the impact of flooding is more serious and permanent, you should notify us and consider requesting force majeure. This is where you are unable to meet scheme requirements or agreement obligations due to exceptional and unforeseeable circumstances outside your control.

For BPS, the impact could be regarded as more serious and permanent if the land can no longer be considered as eligible for BPS and no longer meets the land eligibility criteria. For example, if a stretch of river bank and part of the land parcel has been washed away and the boundary of the field subsequently moved, then the area washed away would be a permanent change. Another example would be where stone or debris is covering eligible land and making that land ineligible.

For ES and CS, the impact may result in a permanent change to the agreement land and/or land features meaning that you can no longer manage the land according to the requirements of the options in your agreement. For example, a hedgerow or newly created woodland that is part of your CS or ES agreement has been destroyed, or as above, part of a land parcel may have been washed away.

Where flooding changes your land permanently, you should check whether you need to make corresponding changes to your digital maps (see our guidance on how to make such changes) and it is important you let us know if this will change the areas able to be managed under ES, CS or a Woodland scheme, or change the BPS eligible area.

How to request force majeure

For BPS 2022 applications, and CS agreements starting from 1 January 2021, you must email or write to us using the subject title Flooding 2022, your SBI and for CS, your agreement numbers. You must send your email or letter within 8 weeks of being in a position to do so. This means within 8 weeks of the time you realise that you cannot meet any of the scheme requirements or agreement obligations. It is not necessarily 8 weeks from the force majeure event itself.

For requests concerning ES agreements, and CS agreements starting before 1 January 2021, you must send your email or letter within 15 working days of being in a position to do so.

You will need to prove that, despite taking every care that could have been expected of you, the exceptional circumstances prevented you from meeting your obligations.

Your evidence should include details of the actions taken with an explanation of the events and the dates they occurred.

Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) Pilot

Rather than force majeure, good reasons apply to the SFI Pilot scheme. Where there is a change in your circumstances or your land is affected, you will need to contact RPA. For more information, read the SFI Pilots terms and conditions

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) land

If SSSI land is affected and you need to carry out remedial work/boundary repairs, you may need consent from Natural England before you start any work. Use a Notice form that you can find on GOV.UK.

Where you need to carry out emergency works you can do this without Natural Englands consent. However, you must notify Natural England and include details of the emergency as soon as you can.

Reporting animal movements

Where livestock are at risk from rising flood waters, as an animal keeper you must move them to a safe location as soon as possible, providing it is safe to do so.

For cattle keepers, you may not be able to report cattle births, movements to another holding and deaths within regulatory deadlines and this may affect cross compliance. You should update your farm records and report your animal births, movements, and deaths as soon as possible.

If you have any problems, keepers in England should contact BCMS on 0345 050 1234, keepers in Wales should call 0345 050 3456, and keepers in Scotland should contact ScotEID on 01466 794323.

For sheep, goat and pig keepers, where it has been necessary for you to move the animals to land on another holding, you may not be able to complete the movement documents normally required before moving the animals. You should update your records with details of the movement and complete the movement documents as soon as possible.

If you have already moved or still need to move your livestock inside the 6 day standstill period, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will licence these moves. You should contact APHA on 03000 200 301.

Unregistered calves and cattle under restrictions

You may need to move cattle when some or all of them are very young unregistered calves that dont have a passport, or are under one of the following restrictions.

  • Individual Movement Restriction (CPP 27)
  • Whole Herd Movement Restriction (CPP 28)
  • Notice to Identify (CPP 30)
  • Notice of Registration (CPP 35).

If youre moving them to a safe location that is part of the same holding, you do not need to notify BCMS

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