O’Neill announces plans for maps to support 2012 SAF
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle O’Neill announced today that farmers will be provided with maps to assist them in completing their 2012 Single Application Form (SAF).
These maps, issued by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) will reflect the field boundary information also used to pre-populate the SAF but will also provide information on visible ineligible features within fields which has been gathered as part of the map improvement project.
Minister O’Neill said:
“This is a key step in the phased improvement of information being provided to farmers to assist with their SFP applications.”
Acknowledging that it has not been possible to finalise the new LPIS maps in advance of the 2012 SAF as had been originally planned, the Minister was keen to point out the benefits to farmers of the approach DARD is taking. Minister O’Neill said:
“These maps will be a very significant enhancement on the maps farmers received in early 2011 in that they will also reflect ineligible areas which have been identified by the remapping project. This will align with the field data information being provided to each claimant in their SAF application packs and so help them make their applications. It is vital, however, that claimants make their own assessment of conditions on the ground when deciding on the detail of their claim.”
The Minister said that her Department has been working hard to improve the maps provided to farmers to assist them with their area-based schemes claims. She explained:
“Given the complexity and scale of this work, with almost 750,000 fields to be assessed, it has not been possible to complete this as intended in early 2012. We have gathered over one million pieces of information concerning ineligible areas and it is important that this is provided to farmers to help them to make accurate claims. The approach I am announcing today will do this.
“A lesson learned from the experience of Paying Agencies in other regions is that it is essential that the new LPIS maps, when issued, are substantially correct (subject of course to farmer changes). It is best to invest the required time to achieve this rather than seek to meet a deadline which could risk the overall position concerning disallowance. It is more important, in my view that we focus on the delivery of the right things – maps which can drive an improvement in the accuracy of claims, rather than getting hung up on an administrative timetable.”