Northern Ireland’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle O’Neill, has revealed that 3,524 single farm payment applications have been received during the first six weeks of this year’s application window, with 60% being submitted online. 

However, with just over four weeks remaining to submit applications, the Minister highlighted that approximately 34,000 applications have still to be received and she appealed to farmers to submit their applications early and via the online service so that more farmers can receive payment in December this year.

She said of the 2,125 received online, 43% were submitted by farmers using my Department’s online service for the first time this year.

“Each year, my Department receives over 37,000 Single Applications, the vast majority of which are submitted in the last two weeks of the application period. With the deadline of 15 May just over four weeks away I am appealing to farmers, help us to help you by applying earlier this year and to use the online service rather than the paper application to submit your application by 15 May without penalty.”

She said paper applications take longer to process and this doesn’t help us to pay more farmers earlier as most of the common mistakes associated with the application process are indeed found to be on those sent in the paper format, and are therefore more likely to result in delays getting payments to farmers.

“I have said before that the key to success is applicants and the Department working together to get payments out faster. That is why I have set a higher payment target in the event that more farmers than expected go online. Each 1% gained represents over 370 farmers paid in December that would not otherwise be paid by that point, so it makes a real difference as payments are received across the countryside. This is really a target for the industry with benefits to the industry.”