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Minister Smith announces opening of on-line application facility for the 2009 Single Payment Scheme

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith, TD, today announced the opening of his Department's on-line application facility for the 2009 Single Payment Scheme, the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, and all other area based schemes, including the new Upland Sheep Payment. "I am very pleased to say that this facility is now `live' for those wishing to lodge applications for the 2009 area-based schemes. It is further clear evidence of the ongoing and strong commitment of my Department to maximising new technology, to the clear benefit of farmers", the Minister said.

The Minister explained that in-built validations on the on-line facility will dramatically restrict the possibility of applications being submitted with minor errors. "Those who submit their applications on-line are much more likely to have their applications cleared for payment more quickly, because of this aspect of the on-line system.  Analysis of the issues which delay processing of applications show a very high percentage are delayed because of basic errors or omissions on the part of the applicant. However, the on-line facility includes a series of compulsory fields and built-in validations, which virtually eliminates these types of errors, simply by refusing to allow the applicant to make the error in the first instance. Unfortunately, such an option is not available with the traditional paper application".

The Minister confirmed that, in addition to the almost 25,000 farmers who are registered with his Department to use the on-line facility, a further similar number have also availed of the option to have an approved designated agent lodge their application via the on-line system on their behalf. "It was recognised from the outset that, in order to maximise the benefit of the on-line facility, a system of approved agents would help maximise the numbers submitting applications on-line. While there are various reasons why individuals might not be in a position to lodge on-line applications, the use of agents is attractive to those who wish to avail of the benefits of lodging an on-line application, although not in a position to do so personally", said Minister Smith.

Further enhancements had been incorporated in the 2009 iNET application process including provision of a `no-change' option for filing of 2009 applications and provision for solving certain problems, such as area over-claims, by email, which should make the processing of individual applications more efficient and effective. The number of applications filed on-line increased from 7,500 in 2007, which was the first year of operation on the facility to almost 20,000 on-line applications in 2008.

The Minister also said that pre-printed application forms will begin to issue shortly and he will make a more detailed statement about the 2009 Schemes at that time.

In conclusion, Minister Smith indicated his confidence that the number of applications filed on-line would again increase substantially in 2009 and he urged anyone considering availing of the on-line facility to make enquiries via the website, www.agfood.ie or, alternatively, the dedicated Helpdesk at Lo-call 1890 252 118.

Minister Smith promoting online application facility for SPS 2009 31/03/2009
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD at the official announcement of online application facility for the 2009 Single Payment Scheme.

Minister Smith promoting online application facility for SPS 2009 with staff 31/03/2009
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD with Pat Preston, Alan O'Brien and Pat O'Hara of the Dept's Single Payment Unit at the official announcement of online application facility for the 2009 Single Payment Scheme

Date Released: 31 March 2009