SFP application form errors prompt alarm
Department insist problems are resticted to a number of cases
Serious problems with single farm payment (SFP) applications have been reported by agricultural consultants, which could affect the processing of farmer payments again this year.
Several agricultural consultants have reported a catalogue of problems with more than 80pc of the SFP applications they have dealt with so far.
However, Department of Agriculture officials have downplayed the problem, insisting that there are a "relatively small number of issues", which they say "can be quickly resolved".
In many cases, the problems relate to so called 'red-lined' areas, such as farm roadways or ponds, that must be excluded from SFP calculations but are included in the gross farm area for REPS payments.
Agricultural consultants maintain that some red-lined areas have been excluded from both the farmer's SFP and REPS information, which could affect their REPS application and, consequently, their REPS payment.
The Department of Agriculture has admitted that it is aware of the issue, which it says is related to some exclusions made during its review of the ortho-imagery within the Department.
Officials have said they are "working on an approach which will systematically solve the issue".
"This will mean there will be no impact on farmers' applications under area-based schemes," the Department claimed.