Farm Ireland

Friday 23 February 2018

'87pc farmer online usage must deliver prompt payments and reduced penalties'

The absence of high-quality rural broadband in Ireland is holding back farming
The absence of high-quality rural broadband in Ireland is holding back farming
FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

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.  

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The ICMSA Deputy President also wants the preliminary check system to resolve dual claims, overclaims and overlaps at an early stage and eliminate penalties associated with these issues.  

“Where a farmer responds to a preliminary check query, it is important that the mapping and digitisation issues are dealt with at an early stage and – similarly - a farmer should be notified when the issue has been resolved. 

"Where a response has not been received from a farmer by 17 June, a final text should issue to the farmer so that he or she has the opportunity to resolve the matter before the closing date. 

"The preliminary check system specifically allows for errors to be corrected without penalty and it is important that the Department makes every effort to get farmers to respond on time and that the farmers themselves take the opportunity available to them to resolve genuine errors without penalty”, concluded Mr. McCormack.

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