Creed urged to avail of ‘perfect sense’ BPS application extension

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) is calling on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed to extend the deadline for Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications.

The demand comes following a statement from the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, earlier today confirming that any country that wishes to extend the May 15 deadline can now do so.

The commission’s decision follows a number of requests from member states on the issue.

In light of changes to the application process this year – whereby all BPS and Transfer of Entitlement applications must be made online – ICSA president Patrick Kent believes an extension “makes perfect sense”.

Applying online may not be that straightforward for many – especially for older farmers and those with poor or no internet connectivity. There needs to be as much flexibility as possible given.

Continuing, Kent acknowledged the “huge efforts” made by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on implementing the BPS changes – including the setting up of special clinics throughout the country.

However, he said 2018 has been “an exceptionally difficult year” for farming due to the impact of the extended winter and fodder shortages nationwide.

Farmers have had a lot to contend with and many are way behind schedule at this point. The choice is there now for Minister Creed to extend the deadline to June 15 and I would urge him to avail of that.

“It is imperative that no one gets left behind during this transition,” he said.

Extension details

This morning, Commissioner Hogan confirmed that the deadline will be extended from May 15 to June 15, 2018, although it is up to member states to decide whether to use the extension.

A formal implementing regulation confirming the extension will be adopted by the commission soon.

Commissioner Hogan said: “The commission’s decision to extend this deadline will benefit farmers by allowing them an additional month in which to submit their applications or claims.

The decision responds directly to a request from a number of member states that are implementing changes to their administrative system following increased flexibility in the administration of direct payments decided in the so-called Omnibus regulation earlier in the year.

This has involved re-organisation of information technology systems, changes to procedures and awareness-raising activities towards beneficiaries to inform them of the new legal requirements.

“In addition, some member states are experiencing delays in the implementation of the geo-spatial aid application that have led to exceptional administrative difficulties there,” he added.