Earlier opening of SFP, as big move to online

The earlier opening of this year’s single farm payment (SFP) application process in Northern Ireland from 3 March 2014 has been announced and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) is encouraging farmers to apply online.

Completing the SFP application form online will enable more farmers to be paid in December 2014, according to Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill.

‘Help us to help you’ is the message from the department to the farming community, and with the online process being made available from 3 March, three weeks prior to the paper applications arriving, the department is encouraging more farmers to use the online facility this year as it will automatically check for errors and omissions.

Minister O’Neill said: “Given that the SFP application online service will be available three weeks before the paper applications I would encourage farmers to use the online facility given the added benefits it will provide.

“In addition to providing more up-to-date field information the online system will check for errors and omissions during completion and, therefore, remove the need for returning paper forms that have been completed wrongly. This will result in the amount of farmers receiving SFP in December increasing further.

“The online map viewer, eMap, which provides the latest field information, has been improved for this year and will be available by 10 March. It will now allow farmers to measure lengths and areas, to print out their maps and, if needed, submit changes to their fields online.

“So I’m appealing to the farming community, ‘Help us to help you’, by completing the application online this year and taking advantage of the benefits it offers over the paper process.”

For farmers not registered for online services, they can contact the department on telephone 028 9442 6699, or text EASY to 66101 or go to http://www.dardni.gov.uk/onlineservices.

Pictured: Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill with Trevor Wylie, owner of Dungannon Farmers Mart. Photo by Parkway Photography