Basic Payment Scheme application process opens
It has been revealed that the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) application process has been opened early by the Minister for Agirculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed.
The system for accepting online BPS and Greening applications is now open, he confirmed.
In the coming days, farmers will receive a BPS information pack in the post containing terms and conditions of the scheme as well as land details, the minister said.
Under the EU regulations, 2018 is the first year that all applications must be submitted online.
“Recent years have seen significant growth in the number of farmers applying for the BPS online, and this is reflective of the range of benefits that online application brings for farmers,” he said.
The closing date for BPS applications for this year has been confirmed as Tuesday, May 15.
Farmers and advisors have been urged to avail of the early opening of the application process now rather than waiting until nearer the closing date.
“I am aware that, for some people, this will be the first year that they will have engaged with the online applications process. To help farmers to submit their application online in 2018, I have ensured the early opening for the BPS application facility in 2018.
“The application process in 2018 is opening over a month earlier than in 2017. This will provide more time for farmers to familiarise themselves with the online application facility and to submit their applications.
Officials from my department will also be providing a range of supports to farmers over the coming weeks and months, including a series of BPS clinics in locations throughout the country.
“Further supports, such as telephone helplines, will also be in place. As we move towards the application deadline, my department will be in contact with farmers again to provide further details on these supports.
“These supports will ensure that all farmers are able to access these important payments,” Minister Creed explained.
Last year, approximately 114,000 online BPS applications were received by the Department of Agriculture; this represented 87% of all applications.
The minister added that the availability of preliminary checks for online applications is a significant benefit for farmers.
These preliminary checks allow online applicants to be advised of certain errors at an early stage and to correct any such issues without penalty.
Almost 8,000 farmers benefited from preliminary checks in 2017, thereby reducing their risk of penalties; this was an increase of about 3,000 on the previous year.
From 2018, all the elements of the direct payments schemes (BPS, Greening, Young Farmers Scheme, National Reserve, and transferring of entitlements) will be online, the department added.
Concluding, Minister Creed said: “I would urge all farmers to avail of the opportunity to apply for the BPS at this early stage via the online system.
“It is open for farmers to do this either as individuals or through an agent. Higher levels of online applications will allow my department to continue to improve on the delivery to farmers of essential payments under schemes such as BPS and the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme.”