With the 16 May deadline for 2016 Single Application Forms (SAF) approaching the Ulster Farmers’ Union has voiced its concerns regarding the online process for EFA (environmental focus area) declarations.
The UFU says it is encouraging that to date almost half the expected number of online EFA declarations have been submitted. But it says concerns remain that technical difficulties and the impending deadline will bring pressure for those still to make an application.
Commenting UFU deputy president, Victor Chestnutt said: “We have been told by a significant number of growers that they have experienced difficulties with the online EFA declaration. We have now raised those concerns with DAERA,” he said.
Mr Chestnutt stressed that the priority was to meet the May 16 deadline but beyond that date, those who have to complete a separate EFA declaration can do so or amend it without penalty until 31 May 2016.
“As this is the final weekend before the application window closes we welcome the announcement that DAERA staff will be available from 9am to 3 pm this Saturday and Sunday to deal with SAF queries. This is an important service and one that provides vital assistance for those working to submit applications online,” said Mr Chestnutt.
Staff in the SAF advisory team will be available from 9.00 – 3.00 on both Saturday and Sunday and can be contacted on 0300 200 7848.