With just shy of 50,000 online applications already submitted for the 2019 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is continuing its campaign of support clinics around the country.
Speaking on the latest episode of FarmLand, department official Brian Alcock, outlined the main challenges and pitfalls that farmers need to look out for when applying online.
A total of 130,152 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications were received by the department last year – the first year that it was made mandatory for all BPS applications to be submitted online.
Having started the clinics earlier this month, on April 5, Alcock says turn out has been good so far.
“For the vast majority of applicants they are comfortable doing it themselves or they have an agricultural advisor and we’re not here to replace those. It’s for those that are struggling, that need a little bit of support.
“Over 100 attended our clinic in Cavan last week, so turn out has been quite good. We’ve had nine or 10 clinics so far, we started in Longford and we’ll be continuing right up to the closing day of May 15.
“Also, we’re available at our office in Portlaoise during business hours every single day up until then. These payments are vitally important, so we want to make sure that everybody applies,” he said.
Regarding some recurring difficulties with the applications, Alcock said last year the main issue was getting people registered.
“A lot of people hadn’t registered for online services, so that’s a process where you need a couple of details with you and we can walk you through the clinics if you’re a first time applicant this year.
“You get registered, it’s similar for anyone that has used online banking, you’ve a user name, a password and a seven-digit code.
That was a big problem last year, we’re not seeing it as much this year. For people who may have forgotten their passwords or codes, we can re-issue them when they come to us.
“As for the application itself, one of the biggest issues is maybe not ticking for the Area of Natural Constraints Scheme – the old disadvantaged area – and we would still see a lot of farmers maybe not ticking it.
“We will alert you to it then and you can go on. Other than that if you’re making no changes it can be very simple to use,” he said.
If those applying are suffering a broadband issue, Alcock offered this advice.
“The beauty of the system is that it is so simple to use that if you have a smart phone you can actually log in and do you application on your smart phone.
If you’re farm is suffering a broadband issue, the next time you are in town you could log in on your phone and do your application and have it done in two minutes.
Inside the door of the clinics, there are six department staff members with laptops. It’s their job to register applicants and talk them through the process.
“If you need to do an online Transfer of Entitlements that’s also available, or to apply for the National Reserve or the Young Farmers Scheme, we will have staff members who will guide you through that process.
We will sit down, talk you through the screens and show you how it works and help you submit there and then.
“If you registered last year bring your registration details with you, your username, your pack and your password, don’t worry if you don’t have them, we can sort you out there and then. But you must bring photo ID to verify that you are the person who has the herd number,” he said.
The details and dates of the upcoming clinics are available on the Department of Agriculture’s website, further advertisements are also available in the local papers.