Online trend has to continue: DARD

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DARD has confirmed that on-line Single Application submission rates are currently running at 89%. But, according to department sources, there is absolutely no room for complacency, where this matter is concerned.

Farmers have just over two weeks to submit single applications before the 16 May deadline is reached. And DARD is urging more farmers to join the 6,200 who have already submitted their Single Application via DARD’s on-line service.

If 70% of Single Applications are submitted on-line DARD has committed to making advance payments in October 2016. Last year a total of 26,500 farmers submitted a Single Application claim with a similar number expected this time around.

A DARD spokesperson said: “Our message to farmers during the Single Application period is ‘help us to help you’ by submitting your application online this year. Over 6,200 applications have been submitted online, but we need this trend to continue if we are to reach 70% online, which will result in advance payments being issued in October 2016.

“If more farmers submit their application online then less resources will be required to carry out validation checks, which means that resources can be re-directed to making more payments earlier to more farmers.”

Highlighting the advantages of using online applications rather than paper format, the DARD spokesperson added: “For 2016 we have made further improvements to the online service, making it even easier to use.

“Currently more than 1,000 farm businesses have reaped the benefits of switching to online application for 2016.”

Benefits include:

o Secure system, available 24hrs a day

o Helpful tools and alerts to help avoid mistakes that otherwise could lead to penalties being applied

o Inclusion of your most up-to-date map – allowing you to make changes on your map or field data table.

o In most cases, where changes are made on the electronic map, there will be no requirement to complete a LPIS Correction Form.

o The online service will calculate your greening requirement for you and advise if this has been met based on your land information.

o Applicants will receive an electronic receipt and summary of claims made.

o If farmers need to make further changes then they can log back into the system and make those changes.

Farmers with an Ecological Focus Area (EFA) requirement must complete their application on-line. EFA requirements may apply in cases where farmers have more than 15 hectares of arable land and don’t qualify for an exemption.

Farmers are also being urged to complete all the questions relating to the schemes they wish to claim for and to check if they need to provide supporting evidence in person.

Those who applied successfully for the Young Farmers’ payment in 2015 don’t need to submit a YFP/RR Form and supporting evidence but they must ensure to select ‘yes’ to apply for the 2016 payment on their Single Application.

Those who applied for the Young Farmers’ Payment and/or to the Regional Reserve in 2015, but were unsuccessful, may apply again in 2016 if they meet all of the scheme conditions.