Teagasc completed more than 40,000 Basic Payment Scheme applications on behalf of farmer clients this year, and 39,000 of these were done on-line.
But Dermot McCarthy, Head of Teagasc Advisory Services, said they had a slow start, before the on-line system worked well, and all clients were eventually processed within last Monday’s deadline.
He said applications involving companies and partnership were more straightforward this year.
“Some dairy advisors now have up to 20% of clients involved in companies, partnerships, or a combination of both.
“These business arrangements have serious legal, taxation and scheme administration implications, and advisors had to work closely with accountants, solicitors and other consultants to ensure full consideration was given to all aspects of applications.”
“The DAFM mapping system was much improved this year and the drawing of plots and the splitting of plots worked well.
“The facility to see GLAS applications on line while completing BPS was something advisors found very useful.”
“This year, for the first time, farmers could lease entitlements without land.
“Many farmers who had lost some leased land found this facility very useful, as it allowed them minimise financial losses resulting from the decrease in land farmed.
“Tillage advisors also commented that the three-crop rule helped maintain spring barley acreage, as farmers had to sow a third tillage crop, and spring weather delayed tillage sowing to a time where the only option was spring barley.”
“As part of this year’s BPS consultations, advisors found they had to deal with advisory questions relating to cash flow and grassland management.
“Because of the wet cold spring, grass shortage, fertiliser recommendations and supplementary feeding had to be discussed at most consultations with farmers during the early part of the BPS campaign.
“Many of these consultations also involved consideration of cash flow implications. Teagasc is very conscious that low grain and milk prices mean cash flow will be a continuing concern over the coming year and Teagasc will put resources into assisting farmers with financial matters throughout 2016.”
Dermot McCarthy said: “Despite complications with linkages of BPS and GLAS, all clients were dealt with in an efficient and professional way.
“The service contract with FRS this year for some derogation and BPS cases helped reduce pressure on advisors and made meeting deadlines possible, while continuing with a technical advisory programme.
“Teagasc will review the use of a service contract for scheme work with a view to further freeing limited advisory time to deal with technical and financial advisory matters to ensure national farm development and farm income targets are met.”
n Agriculture Minister Michael Creed welcomed a significant increase in the number of farmers applying online for the 2016 Basic Payment Scheme.
Over 100,700 online applications were received in advance of last Monday’s deadline, and late applications were still being received online in the Department Tuesday.
In addition, about 30,000 paper applications were received.
Minister Creed confirmed that EU regulations require Member States to move to 75% online application by 2017 and 100% online application by 2018. “I am pleased that the 2017 target has now been met a year in advance” he said.
He also confirmed that preliminary checks will afford this year’s online BPS applicants the opportunity to address any dual claims, over-claims, and overlaps identified on online applications within specified time frames without penalty.”