The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD, today announced the opening this week of the on-line application facility for both the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and the Greening Payment Scheme. These Schemes, together with the Young Farmers Scheme (top-up), have replaced the Single Payment Scheme in 2015. The Minister also confirmed the closing date for receipt of applications as 15th May.
“I am delighted to be in a position to announce the opening of iNet for 2015, which has gone ‘live’ this week” the Minister said, noting that “the opening of this facility nearly three months before the application closing date and almost two weeks earlier than last year, is very much in line with my commitment to maximise the use of technology for farmers’ benefit.” The Minister noted that over 80,000 applications were submitted online under the 2014 Single Payment Scheme, representing an eleven-fold increase since this on-line facility was launched in 2007.
“I am very pleased with the continuing increase in the use of the iNet facility by both farmers and their agents. The benefits are clear including a verifiable receipt by my Department of their applications and the system of in-built validations which significantly reduces the numbers of potential errors, and ultimately leading to speedier payment” the Minister explained.
While the Minister also took the opportunity to confirm that the closing date for the 2015 Scheme will be 15th May, the latest date allowed under the governing EU Regulations, he urged farmers and their advisors to avail of the early opening, rather than waiting until closer to the closing date. The Minister said “An early start is particularly important this year since I have decided that certain applicants, including farmers with a greening requirement and organic farmers must apply on-line”. The Minister added that “the availability of the iNet is critical in facilitating farmers with greening requirements to accurately and successfully complete their applications this year”. The Minister pointed out that the application under the 2015 BPS is also the application for new entitlements under the BPS. Therefore, farmers, who do not submit an application by the deadline, will not be granted payment entitlements under the BPS.
Mindful of the challenges presented by the implementation of greening requirements to the farmers concerned, the Minister pointed out that “my Department has been in contact with those farmers and their advisors about this matter. In addition once the on-line facility is up and running my Department will hold a series of public information meetings which will include advice on the completion of on-line applications with particular reference to greening. The Minister added ‘farmers will have the opportunity for one to one access to officials from my Department to assist with particular queries’.
In relation to the greening requirements, the Minister also announced that that his Department had commenced issuing maps of all arable parcels with all of the landscape features (hedgerows, drains and buffer strips) indentified. These maps are accompanied by a comprehensive manual on the greening requirements. The maps and the manual are being issued to all arable farmers with a view to providing as much assistance as possible to farmers when submitting their applications in 2015.
The Minister urged anyone considering availing of the on-line facility to make enquiries via www.agfood.ie or, alternatively, the dedicated Helpdesk at Lo-call 0761 064424 or 1890 252 118.
Concluding, the Minister said “There is no down-side in registering on-line either personally or through an agent as most farmers still retain the right to submit a traditional paper application, should they so choose. However, I am convinced that those who do sign-up will be readily impressed with the system’s user-friendliness”.