The active farmer rule
The active farmer rule

The following Property guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The active farmer rule
  • Introduction
  • Elements of the active farmer rule
  • Agricultural activity
  • Exceptions
  • Other non-agricultural activities
  • Agricultural area

Brexit: The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. This has implications for the schemes providing for agricultural subsidies in England and Wales, which will no longer be derived from the EU Common Agricultural Policy. We will introduce content to address the new regimes once the relevant legislation (including the Agriculture Bill) has been enacted.


In order to qualify for Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments, and also for an allocation of entitlements in Wales, the applicant must be an ‘active farmer’. A ‘farmer’ means any person or group of persons who are engaged in agricultural activity. The active farmer requirement also applies to any person who wishes to take a transfer of BPS entitlements.

The active farmer rule applies to the farming business that makes a BPS application, but not to any other businesses connected to it. So if a farmer operates an entirely separate non-agricultural business on the holding, this will not invalidate a BPS claim by the agricultural business. For this reason (and also principally for tax reasons), farmers should consider carefully how their various activities are structured.

The active farmer rule has been implemented somewhat differently in England and Wales.

Elements of the active farmer rule

In both England and Wales, the active farmer rule consists of two elements:

  1. the applicant must be a person