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Minister reminds farmers of closing date for receipt of Amendment Forms under 2010 Single Payment Scheme

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today confirmed that by close of business on Monday of this week, his Department had received approximately 130,000 applications under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme into it's Offices in Portlaoise, of which almost 43,500 applications were submitted online, via the online facility. "Naturally, I am very pleased with these figures" the Minister said.  "In the first instance, I am particularly pleased that the overall level of applications received by the closing date for the Scheme is as high as it is, but, more significantly, that the level of applications submitted online continues to rise".

The Minister noted that online, his Department's facility for on-line submission of SPS applications, has proved very attractive to both individual farmers and their Agents, since its introduction in 2007. "In 2007 a total of 7,500 applications were submitted online, rising to 19,500 in 2008, 34,500 in 2009 and rising again in 2010 to 43,500" the Minister noted, explaining "this is testament to the benefits of the system and its user-friendliness. The system mirrors the paper application, but due to the series of built-in validations, significantly reduces the level of error, thereby allowing for speedier processing of applications".

The Minister thanked all involved in making the 2010 application period such a success, particularly individual farmers, their advisors and consultants. "I am particularly encouraged by the very positive response to my Department's campaign of recent months to have all ineligible areas identified and mapped, given the huge significance of the land database in underpinning all area-related payments for which my Department has responsibility, worth annually in excess of €1.7 billion" he said, noting that initial assessment by his officials of the maps submitted with the 2010 applications confirmed the Department's view that the majority of farmers had historically been making sufficient allowances for ineligible areas on their claims, but these had simply not been mapped.

The Department, as part of its ongoing management of the Land Parcel Identification System, is currently reviewing the 2009 ortho-photography of land parcels. It is writing to individual farmers, who have had ineligible features excluded from one of more of their land parcels and now find that their 2009 application is in over-claim. "If you are in receipt of such a letter, you have an opportunity between now and 31st May to submit an amendment form and reduce the claimed area for the parcel or parcels in question. It could save you from a penalty in respect of the 2010 Scheme" the Minister explained.

The Minister also reminded farmers that the closing date for receipt of amendment forms under the Scheme is 31 May 2010. "Land may only be added to an application, or the claimed area of a parcel changed, up to 31 May 2010" the Minister explained. "Thereafter, late amendments with this type of change will be accepted, with penalty, up to 11 June 2010.  However, as the regulatory penalty is a cumulative 1% for each working day in this 1st June to 11th June period, I would urge anyone who finds that they now need to submit an amendment form to do so immediately, but in any event by 31st May, in order to avoid the application of penalties" he added.

Provided that a farmer has submitted an SPS application by 17 May 2010, he or she is entitled to amend, without the imposition of a late penalty, the details on the form by submitting an Amendment Forms under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme and other area-based Schemes by the deadline of 31 May 2010.  Land parcels may only be added or deleted to an application, or the claimed area of a parcel changed or other information altered or added up to 31 May 2010. "This is an important facility and gives farmers the final opportunity to ensure that they have fully and accurately completed their application form for 2010 to facilitate payments at the earliest possible date. It will also benefit the Department if errors are corrected now, as it will enable it to process application forms for all farmers as quickly and efficiently as is possible. Farmers should remember that errors and omissions in their application forms will not only delay the processing of their own applications but the applications of all other farmers as well" the Minister said.

Although the deadline for the receipt of an application, which covers many of the schemes in which farmers participate (Single Farm Payment, Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, REPS, Grassland Sheep Scheme etc), has now passed, it is still not too late to deal with any issues or correct errors in your application form, which should ensure that all the payments you are due will be made to you in a timely manner. "My advice to all applicants is to take a few minutes over the next few days to study the copy of your SPS application form and to use the amendment facility to resolve any errors, omissions and inaccuracies. It could save you a lot of heartache and more importantly, money if you do so" the Minister concluded.

Date Released: 19 May 2010