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Single Payment Scheme: Closing date for receipt of applications

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today reminded farmers that the closing date for receipt of applications under the 2008 Single Payment Scheme is Thursday, 15 May 2008. The submission of a Single Payment Scheme application is a requirement not only for the Single Payment Scheme but it is also necessary for those farmers applying under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, the Energy Crops Scheme and the Protein Crops Scheme and for the first time this year, applicants under REPS are also obliged to submit a Single Payment application by the 15 May deadline. The Minister warned that 15 May is the latest date allowable under EU rules for the submission of the Single Payment application without late application penalty. "As it is to be expected that agricultural advisors will be extremely busy in the lead-up to the closing date, I would urge all farmers intending to avail of advisors' services to make the necessary arrangements without further delay," Minister Coughlan added.

The Minister also reminded farmers of the online application facility, confirming that, if they are not themselves in a position to apply online, they may choose to have their applications lodged online by an approved Agent. "Farmers are already aware of this option," the Minister said, adding: "I was particularly encouraged by the take-up of the online facility under the 2007 pilot Scheme and am delighted to see that the number of 2008 applications lodged online to-date already exceeds the 2007 online total. I am also heartened by the feedback from those farmers and agricultural agents who have already used the online facility. They have indicated complete satisfaction with the system and have favourably commented on its user-friendliness. Users have also highlighted the additional benefits of an online application, particularly the built-in validations which help to minimise errors and the fact that they get an immediate electronic acknowledgement of the receipt of the application from my Department."

The Minister again referred to the new EU Commission requirements in relation to issuing payments, which come into effect for the first time this year. From mid October 2008 all EU funded or partially funded Scheme payments to farmers must be made by electronic means to a bank account. Payment by cheque will no longer be an option. The Minister pointed out that almost 60% of the Single Payment Scheme modulation refunds issued last month by her Department were paid directly into farmers' bank accounts and also remarked that over 80,000 farmers are already using this payment method.

The Minister continued: "Both my Department and I are well aware of the importance of timely scheme payments to farmers and the anxiety and stress that would be caused if those payments could not be issued. A further letter will therefore be issued to those farmers who have still not submitted their bank account details. As well as banks and building societies, I am happy to say that Postbank intends to facilitate the electronic transfer of funds through the Post Office branch network in the near future. A limited number of Credit Unions are also in a position to handle direct payments to customer accounts and this number should increase over time. I will continue to explore all possible solutions to minimise disruption to farmers."

Date Released: 22 April 2008