Farmers should apply early and online for Single Farm Payment
Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has said the message needs to go out to the farming community that it is important to get the application forms for the Single Farm Payment in as soon as possible after the application window opens in mid-March and to apply online.
Speaking to a motion on Single Farm Payments Mr. McAleer stated,
“Last year there were 37,633 applications, of which only 20% we applied for online leaving staff to deal with over 29,000 paper applications.
“At the end of May, the last two weeks of the application period, 65% of the total applications were submitted which meant staff had to deal with 24,461 applications in that fortnight period alone.
“It takes 10 weeks to scan and key in the data from all paper applications, and over 50,000 errors were identified in the first validation. That gives a sense of the scale of the operation.
“I would advise farmers that the online version of doing this is quicker, easier, avoids standing in long queues and makes correcting mistakes easier.
“It is therefore crucial that we get the message out to farmers that by applying early and online it will speed up the entire process.
“I would also like to congratulate the Minister Michelle O’Neill for the improvement in the number of payments that will be paid out in December this year. This has been made possible by the Department using remote sensing to validate claims and I welcome the fact that the use of remote sensing will be increased in the months ahead.
“I am quite confident that if farmers get their application in by early March and apply online we will see another large increase in the numbers receiving payments in early December.”