Farmers – closing date for Single Farm Paymeny is Tuesday May 15th

14th May, 2012

Minister Coveney reminds
farmers that the closing date under the 2012 Single Payment Scheme is Tuesday,
15 May 2012 and welcomes increased use of iNET

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD,
today reminded farmers that the closing date for receipt of applications under
the 2012 Single Payment Scheme is Tuesday 15 May. “It is vitally
important that farmers ensure that they lodge their applications by this date,
in order to avoid penalties that must be applied where applications are
received late”
, the Minister said. “Given the significance of
the Single Payment to farm income, it is imperative that farmers allow
themselves enough time to complete the form accurately and make sure it’s
submitted on time
. We are obliged under EU rules to apply penalties
where applications are received late. It is worth noting that 1,700 farmers
were penalised in 2011 due to late application, resulting in a payment loss of
€1.6m
. These penalties can easily be avoided simply by ensuring that
applications are submitted on time”.

The Minister welcomed the continued interest in iNet, his Department’s
on-line application facility for the Single Payment Scheme. “I am
delighted to see that on-line applications under the 2012 Scheme are currently
running significantly ahead of the same point during the 2011 campaign”
,
the Minister said. “This is very much in line with the trend each year
since the introduction of iNet in 2007, with increased numbers being lodged
on-line each year. Indeed, there was a seven-fold increase in usage of iNet
between 2007 and 2011 and, already at this stage in the 2012 campaign, the
numbers lodged on-line are on target to exceed last year’s record levels”
,
he added.

“The continuing increase in uptake is testament to the recognised
benefits of iNet”
, the Minister said,
outlining that, due to the system of in-built validations on the on-line
facility, the options for applicants to make minor errors on their applications
is dramatically restricted. “Analysis of the issues which delay
processing of applications show a very high percentage are delayed because of
basic errors or omissions on the part of the applicant
. However, it has
been possible to construct the on-line facility with a series of compulsory
fields and built-in validations, which dramatically reduces the level of these
types of error, simply by refusing to allow the applicant to make the error in
the first instance. Unfortunately, such an option is not available with the
traditional paper application”
. The Minister also referred to the new
on-line mapping option for 2012, whereby relevant maps can now also be
submitted on-line with the application. “This is further evidence of
the ongoing commitment to maximise the use of technology for the benefit of
farmers
. In keeping with the practise of constantly improving the
service and options provided by iNet, I am very pleased to see that it has been
technically possible to introduce an on-line mapping element into the 2012
release. This will allow farmers, or their agents, who need to submit maps to
my Department to do so through iNet, thereby dispensing with the need to submit
paper maps. But the benefits go beyond this, because, by virtue of the maps
coming in online, immediate effect can be given to the changes required,
resulting in greater efficiencies for all concerned”
, said Minister
Coveney.

The Minister confirmed that, in addition to the almost 25,000 farmers
who are registered with his Department to use the on-line facility, a further
similar number have also availed of the option to have an approved designated
Agent lodge their application via the on-line system on their behalf. “It
was recognised from the outset that, in order to maximise the benefit of the
on-line facility, a system of approved Agents would help maximise the numbers
submitting applications on-line. While there are various reasons why
individuals might not be in a position to lodge on-line applications, the Agent
facility is attractive to those who wish to avail of the benefits of lodging an
on-line application, although not in a position to do so personally”
,
the Minister said. “I would certainly urge all those who have yet to do
so, to give it serious consideration. Don’t forget, even if you don’t feel you
have sufficient IT skills yourself, you can avail of the services of an
approved Agent, who will do the necessary on your behalf”
the Minister
said, adding “I would strongly recommend that anyone considering
availing of the on-line facility to make enquiries via the website,
www.agfood.ie or, alternatively, the dedicated Helpdesk at Lo-call 1890 252 118″. The list of approved Agents is available on the Department’s website,
listed by county.

Concluding, the Minister referred to the recently introduced system of
text messaging, designed to keep farmers informed on important issues and
deadlines. “This development is another example of the use being made
of modern technology for the benefit of all concerned”
, Minister
Coveney explained, adding “an initial introductory text message was
sent recently, which allowed recipients who do not wish to participate, to opt
out free of charge. However, there are currently in excess of 90,000 farmers
signed-up to receive text messages. A further text will issue, advising of the
closing date for the 2012 Scheme. This is an extremely cost-effective way of
getting vital information out to farmers, with practical, measurable benefits
to follow, as any reduction in the level of late penalties being applied
benefits both the individual farmers concerned and the wider community”
.