Farmers have welcomed the various support options introduced by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to help with completing their online Single Application.
The online Single Application Service opened on 01 March and DAERA’s support services are in demand.
The SAF Advisory Service has dealt with more than 5,000 calls and 500 farmers have availed of one-to-one appointments at their DAERA Direct Offices, completing applications before they left. 300 farmers have attended ‘online Single Application workshops’ for those submitting online for the first time in 2017.
A DAERA spokesperson said: “When we opened the online Single Application Service in March we introduced a number of support measures to assist those farmers who would be switching from paper format to online application for the first time in 2017.
“From the feedback received, it is positive to note that farmers have welcomed our support services, with approximately 1,000 benefiting from the range of options available.”
DAERA is asking farmers not to wait until the last few days to submit their Single Application and continue to make use of any of the support options available.
The spokesperson added: “To date we have received approximately 5,000 online applications and we are asking farmers to ‘help us to help you’, by not waiting until the last few days to submit their Single Application. Act now and make use of the support options available before places become limited as we approach the closing date of 15 May 2017. Contact the SAF Advisory Service on 0300 200 7848 and secure that help.”
It’s local to you!
While the SAF Advisory Service has already dealt with over 5000 calls this year, the most popular of the services provided are the ‘one to one’ appointments in local DAERA Direct offices and the free workshops on ‘How to complete your SAF online.’
One to One – it’s a comprehensive service
Over 500 farmers have already availed of ‘one to one’ appointments in their local DAERA Direct office and the vast majority left with their application safely completed. These appointments can only be arranged through the SAF Advisory Service (0300 200 7848).
When a farmer calls a specially trained SAF Adviser will talk to them about the options to complete their SAF online. If ‘one to one’ help is required then that help can be arranged for a time and place that is convenient to them. Farmers will need to have their Government Gateway ID, password and email address before they attend their appointment. The SAF Adviser will help with all that as well. At the appointment a DAERA Direct adviser will guide the farmer through their application, making any changes to his/her land details, submitting their application and receiving a receipt. It’s a comprehensive service.
The ‘How to complete your SAF Online’ Workshops have proved a big success for the 300 or so ‘first time online’ farmers who have attended so far. Lorraine and Ronnie Clarke, who attended a course at CAFRE Enniskillen said: “Really recommend this course. The information is very useful. A great idea to allow you to submit your application at the time; it means you are sure you are submitting the correct information.”
Diane Farlow (Enniskillen) said: “I found the course very useful, never before had I used maps online. There was great one to one help provided. I am now happier to go ahead and submit my SAF online correctly.”
When farmers attend the workshops they are asked to have their Government Gateway and password with them. At the workshop they will be given a SAF online demonstration after which they will be invited to log into their own DAERA online account. The trainers and staff from local DAERA Direct offices are on hand to help with questions and problems and the majority of those who have attended to date have left with their SAF safely completed.
The workshops are delivered from the CAFRE colleges in Greenmount (Antrim), Loughry (Cookstown) and Enniskillen but DAERA has also added a date at the Southern Regional College in Newry on 27 April. As places at these workshops are limited it is recommended to book early by calling now on 028 71 319955.
Expert help at the end of a phone
DAERA have a team of specially trained SAF Advisers, supported by technical staff, available to answer all your questions about the application or the schemes. A new addition to the help provided this year is that if a farmer has a specific problem in the application form or map, he/she can share that screen with the SAF adviser, who will be able to see the problem he/she has and help to resolve it there and then. This team also has a web chat facility or you can contact them by email at email@example.com
Other options – Nominate. Farmers can give someone else permission to complete their form online for them. This can be a member of their family, a friend, accountant or an agent. Farmers will need to complete the form to nominate an authorised person. If they choose to use an agent it is important they contact them now.
Further information - Check out the department’s website for further information and helpful videos that demonstrate how to complete your application online.
If farmers would like to keep up to date with news and developments on area-based schemes they can subscribe to DAERA’s new SMS text and email service. They can opt in to this service by accessing DAERA Online Services for texts and email alerts. For text only alerts simply text ABS to 67300.