FARMERS are taking to online technology in a big way, latest statistics from the Department of Agriculture reveal.
The level of online applications for the single farm payment has risen dramatically from 7,500 in 2007 to 35,000 in 2009.
Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith said he was particularly pleased to see the momentum as regards iNET, given the system’s attractiveness to single farm applications.
He said the rise in online applications was further evidence of the ongoing commitment of his department to maximising new technology to the benefit of farmers.
Mr Smith announced that the online application facility for the 2010 Single Payment Scheme – SPS iNet – was now open for business, six weeks earlier than last year.
The system provides for applications to be lodged by individual farmers, or their nominated approved agents.
Due to in-built validations on the facility, the options for applicants to make minor errors on applications were dramatically restricted.
“Those who submit their applications online are much more likely to have their applications cleared for payment more quickly, because of this aspect of the online system.
“Analysis of the issues which delay processing of applications shows that a very high percentage is delayed because of basic errors or omissions on the part of the applicant.
“However, it has been possible to construct the online facility with a series of compulsory fields and built-in validations.
“These dramatically reduce the level of these types of error, 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,” he said.
Mr Smith confirmed that in addition to the almost 25,000 farmers registered with his department to use the online facility, a similar number have availed of the option to have an approved designated agent lodge their application via the online system on their behalf.
The closing date for receipt of applications under the 2010 schemes is May 17, 2010.
“As this is the latest date allowable under EU rules, there is absolutely no prospect of extending it” Mr Smith said, urging all applicants to ensure that they lodge their forms on or before this date.
Mr Smith urged anyone considering availing of the online facility to make enquiries via the website, www.agfood.ie or, alternatively, the dedicated helpdesk at lo-call 1890 252 118.
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