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Closing Date for 2009 Single Payment Scheme Applications

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, has issued an urgent reminder to farmers who have not yet submitted their Single Payment Scheme application form to do so immediately. In any event, it should be submitted before the 15 May closing date. This is now less than 2 weeks away.  Minister Smith reminded farmers that there will be no extension to the 15 May closing date as this is not legally possible. Applications received after that date will be penalised with a loss of a cumulative 1% of payment per day in the period up to 9 June and a complete (100%) loss of payment after that date.

Minister Smith suggested that the SPS form is arguably the most important form that a farmer completes in the entire year. The form is pre-printed with the farmer's details from 2008 so in most cases it is simply a matter of signing and dating it. The submission of a valid SPS form from all eligible applicants gives rise to total payments to the value of €1.3 billion. Depending on the farm enterprise, this one form covers a farmer's application not only for the Single Payment Scheme but also for the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, the Upland Sheep Payment, the Energy Crops Scheme and the Protein Premium Scheme. It is also an essential form for the purposes of other Department schemes such as REPS and Forestry.

Some concern was expressed by the Minister that the number of posted and hand delivered applications received to date appears to be lower than at the same stage in previous years. Minister Smith was pleased however that the number of online applications received to date suggests a further increase in the take-up of this facility in 2009. The Minister said, "This is indeed proof of the growing popularity of the online facility. It has been tried and tested and without doubt is seen to be a simpler and more efficient method of making the SPS application. I am fully committed to the continuous development of the online application. I would encourage those farmers who have not yet registered as online users with my Department to seriously consider this option. Apart from the application period, it will be of great benefit throughout the year for tracking the progress of applications and for other Department services, such as calf birth registration, online compliance certificates, and herd profiles".

The basic requirement for payment under the Single Payment scheme is that one hectare of eligible land must be declared to draw down payment in respect of each SPS entitlement (eligible land is defined in the 2009 SPS Helpsheet/Terms and Conditions that issued to all applicants). In this context therefore the Claimed Area that the farmer declares in Column 7 on the back page of the form is by far the most vital detail on the entire form. An overclaim on this area can give rise to penalties. The Minister urged farmers to take particular care to examine the area pre-printed in Column 7 and to ensure that any ineligible areas are deducted from the claimed area for each parcel (ineligible land is also defined in the 2009 SPS Helpsheet/Terms and Conditions). As a general rule, the claimed area in Column 7 should not exceed the Reference Area that is pre-printed in Column 5. A map indicating the exclusion of an ineligible area should be submitted with the application.

The Minister again outlined the main changes that farmers need to be aware of in 2009:

Afforestation

With effect from 1 January 2009, land which will be afforested in 2009 and subsequent years will continue to be eligible to draw down an SPS payment in 2009 provided that land meets the requirements set out in the 2009 SPS Helpsheet/Terms and Conditions.

Set-aside

The requirement of compulsory set-aside for tillage farmers is abolished with effect from 1 January 2009. It is no longer a requirement therefore to declare land as set-aside. Accordingly, set-aside entitlements have been converted to standard entitlements, retaining their original value.

National Reserve entitlements

The 5-year restriction on the transfer of National Reserve entitlements, including Consolidated entitlements, is abolished with effect from 1 January 2009 and the '80% usage rule' applicable to the sale of SPS entitlements without land is also abolished. National Reserve entitlements are now treated in the same way as STANDARD entitlements and have been re-named Standard (NR).

Minister Smith concluded by re-iterating the imminence of the 15 May closing date and urged farmers not to miss this vital deadline.

5 May 2009

 

 

 

 

 

Date Released: 05 May 2009