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Surge in applications ahead of Basic Payment deadline

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There has been a surge in submissions for basic payment in recent weeks. Pic Roger Jones.

There has been a surge in submissions for basic payment in recent weeks. Pic Roger Jones.

There has been a surge in submissions for basic payment in recent weeks. Pic Roger Jones.

Around 90,000 farmers have already submitted their Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications, 10 days ahead of the May 15 deadline.

A surge in submissions over the last few weeks means application levels are running 10pc up on 2019 as farmers look to avoid any potential problems due to Covid-19.

The Department of Agriculture confirmed to the Farming Independent that 88,718 BPS applications had been received by the end of April - 8,000 up on the same date last year.

This equates to almost 70pc of the 130,000 BPS applications the Department receives each year.

Close to €1.2 billion is paid out to Irish farmers in direct payments annually, and the BPS monies will be crucial this year due to the income difficulties being experienced as a result of Covid-19.

The Department said it had been keeping in contact with advisors and consultants regarding BPS applications.

"In order to ensure that the current restrictions do not pose a barrier to the submission of farmers' applications, advisors and consultants have amended their procedures and they have reported that these arrangements are working well," the Department stated.

A spokesman for Teagasc confirmed that the state body has made a determined effort to get BPS applications finalised early this year, to minimise the risk of disruption because of the possibility of staff being out sick or isolating due to Covid-19.

"The BPS will be more important than ever this year to provide stability to farm household incomes, given the market uncertainty for farm produce created by the pandemic, and also the disruption to off-farm sources of income," a spokesman said.

"Our advisors have made excellent progress completing applications on behalf of farmers, but there are some difficult cases, with complicated entitlement transfers, that need to be witnessed, and they have been left until the end."

ACA president Tom Canning said the BPS submissions from private consultants were running 15pc ahead of last year.

"Our members will be available on the phones and by email every day until the deadline. Any farmers who require help can contact any one of our 160 members' offices across the country or locate a member on www.aca.ie," he said.

Farmers can also call the Department Helpdesk at 0761 06 44 20.

Indo Farming