'87pc farmer online usage must deliver prompt payments and reduced penalties'
With 87% of farmers applying for their BPS/Greening payment online in 2017, the Deputy President of ICMSA has said that this must translate into an elimination of the kinds of payment delays experienced in previous years and a much speedier identification of errors and rectifications that will enable outstanding queries to be dealt with well in advance of the payment dates: mid September for the ANC payment and the 16 October for the BPS/Greening.
Mr McCormack noted how critical these payments have become to farmers representing a huge percentage of total farm income and their prompt payment is critical in terms of meeting bills and loan repayments that traditionally fall due in the Autumn period.
He acknowledged that the online system has improved year on year in terms of the BPS/Greening/ANC applications and farmers have responded by switching to this system on the basis of a clear commitment from the Department that payments will be made on time.
But he observed that for a certain number of farmers, this has not happened and they have experienced long delays in their payments with serious implications and stress for the farmers involved.
“As regards 2017, it is essential that every farmer is notified of any problem with their application by 1 September at the very latest and that all problems are resolved in advance of the ANC payment date.
"Getting a letter relating to a problem in October or November is hugely frustrating for farmers and this has to be avoided in 2017.
"Farmers should be able to check the status of their application online and when an application is fully processed, a farmer should be notified by text or email that their application is ‘through the system’ and payment will issue on the dates as per the Farmers Charter.
"If this sensible policy was implemented, it would also reduce the volume of phone calls farmers have to make to the Department”, said Mr. McCormack.