O’Neill urges more farmers to submit their 2014 Single Applications earlier and online
Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has revealed that 3,524 Single Application Forms (SAFs) have been received during the first six weeks of this year’s application window, with 60% being submitted online.
~ Thursday, 17 April 2014
Acknowledging those who had already applied and the increasing number of farmers who had opted to apply online Minister O’Neill said: "I would like to thank those farmers who have already submitted their Single Applications and I am particularly pleased that of the 2,125 received online, 43% were submitted by farmers using my Department’s online service for the first time this year."
However, with just over four weeks remaining to submit SAFs the Minister highlighted that approximately 34,000 applications have still to be received and she appealed to farmers to submit their applications early and via the online service so that more farmers can receive payment in December this year.
She said: "Each year, my Department receives over 37,000 Single Applications, the vast majority of which are submitted in the last two weeks of the application period.
"With the deadline of 15 May just over four weeks away I am appealing to farmers, help us to help you by applying earlier this year and to use the online service rather than the paper application to submit your application by 15 May without penalty."
Highlighting the drawbacks of the paper application process, the Minister added: "My Department continues to receive most Single Applications in paper. These applications take longer to process and this doesn’t help us to pay more farmers earlier as most of the common mistakes associated with the application process are indeed found to be on those sent in the paper format, and are therefore more likely to result in delays getting payments to farmers.
"I have said before that the key to success is applicants and the Department working together to get payments out faster. That is why I have set a higher payment target in the event that more farmers than expected go online. Each 1% gained represents over 370 farmers paid in December that would not otherwise be paid by that point, so it makes a real difference as payments are received across the countryside. This is really a target for the industry with benefits to the industry."
Notes to editors:
- The closing date for submitting SAF applications is 15 May 2014.
- All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email: DARD Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.