Department urged to take Covid-19 difficulties into account with BPS applications

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has been urged to implement greater flexibility for farmers applying for their Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and other schemes in the coming months by the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

Commenting on the matter, ICMSA deputy president Lorcan McCabe noted that the deadline for submission for BPS and Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) remains at May 15.

However, he said that the department must use its “discretion and common sense” in processing applications, given that farmers are unable to sit down face to face with their consultant before submitting their applications.

McCabe said that the preliminary checks system for BPS applications that is used to notify applicants of issues such as overclaims, dual claims, and overlaps becomes even more crucial for notifying farmers and planners of potential mistakes.

For 2020, there may need to be a second round of preliminary checks where mistakes can be corrected without penalty at a later date, McCabe contended.

“Farmers and consultants have previously used the deadline of mid-June to address errors with no penalty applied where the non-compliance is fully rectified by that date and ICMSA is calling for further leniency to rectify any such non-compliance after this date in 2020,” he said.

McCabe said that, where a farmer is signed up for text message alerts from the department, a text should issue to advise them of the deadline if the application is not submitted by May 10.

In addition, he said such farmers should get a notification on their BPS account even after the mid-June timeline if “genuine errors are found where they can be corrected without penalty”.

Given the extremely difficult circumstances for every sector of society, we think it’s essential that the maximum flexibility is applied for 2020.

“ICMSA is urging all farmers to get in contact with their planner about their BPS as quickly as possible and initiate communication so as to minimise what’s bound to be a last-minute rush before the submission deadline,” McCabe concluded.