Assurances sought on Department website

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East Galway TD Paul Connaughton is to seek assurances in coming days from Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney TD that the Department of Agriculture website will be able to cope with the deluge of applications for new schemes at the end of May.
‘Most farmers in County Galway have now received their application forms to apply for their basic payment scheme (BPS), formerly known as the Single Farm Payment, which also includes application for the old Disadvantaged Area Scheme, now known as Areas of Natural Constraint.’
Applications close for these schemes on May 29th next. Deputy Paul Connaughton said this week he had been contacted by a number of ‘early bird’ farmers, who had made arrangements with their planners to submit their applications online in good time before the rush commenced. However, as one farmer put it, ‘this was my first time to apply online as I have successfully applied in the ordinary way by paper application before now and for most of the interview I was impressed with the speed and accuracy of the new procedure. However, a hitch developed when the screen crashed and my application couldn’t be logged to the Department’s website for well over a half an hour.’
Deputy Connaughton said he shuddered to think what would happen when thousands of farmers go to use this system in coming weeks, particularly in the run up to the May 29th deadline. ‘This is the most vital farm payment of all’, said Deputy Connaughton, ‘as most farmers have to make a living from the cheque in the post and I will be in contact as a matter of urgency with the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Simon Coveney TD, about this matter, as unless better access can be created to the Department’s website, there will be mayhem all over the country.’
Deputy Connaughton said that because applications were also being sought from farmers for the new GLAS scheme (old REPS and AEOS schemes), the Department’s website will be red hot when some 30,000 farmers or more apply for this scheme, which has a deadline of May 22nd next. Deputy Connaughton said that because of the transition from the Single Farm Payment to the new Basic Payment Scheme, farmers should be extra vigilant and should seek professional help in the filling up of their applications if any doubt exists concerning matters relating to eligibility rules.
‘There are many and varied rule changes which could create problems for farmers unless the necessary clarification is sought. Many farmers feel that May 29th is a long way away, but given the complexity of the schemes involved, applications should be sent as soon as possible, either on line or by post, making sure that the certificate of postage is sought.’