Written answers

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Agriculture Schemes

Photo of Seán CanneySeán Canney (Galway East, Independent)
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76. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he is taking to ensure that farmers who make trivial mistakes on online applications, such as failing to tick the ANC box when they wish to get paid for ANC, have an easy and transparent mechanism to have their mistakes rectified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37229/21]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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All applications for Basic Payment Scheme and other EU funded Area Based Schemes are now completed online. The online application is mandatory under EU regulations and will continue under the new CAP. One of the many advantages of the online application process is the in-built checks which prevent certain errors being made.

Checks include the inability to claim incorrect parcel numbers, exceeding the maximum claimed areas of parcels and also errors of omission such as parcel use etc. These are highlighted with warning prompt boxes which must be completed and rectified before an applicant can proceed.

Following the application process, the Department facilitates preliminary checks of online Basic Payment Scheme applications for certain cases of non-compliance in the areas of over-claims, dual claims and overlaps. Applicants are notified via the online system of these errors and are offered the opportunity to rectify any such non-compliance with no penalty applied where the non-compliance is fully rectified within a prescribed date.

The purpose of the preliminary check is to enhance the correctness of BPS applications with the aim of lowering reductions and administrative penalties. These preliminary checks can also have the same impact on other area-based schemes.

Application for the Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme (ANC) is made annually by way of ticking the box to indicate that the applicant wishes to apply for the scheme when completing their annual online Basic Payment Scheme application form. This is done from the Applicant details screen, under the section entitled "Other Schemes and Activities", where applicants are advised to tick the box should they wish to apply for the ANC scheme.

The Department has taken a number of steps to ensure that farmers are reminded to apply for the Scheme where they have received payment in the previous Scheme year. Where such applicants have not ticked the box to apply for the scheme, they are provided with a prompt to advise them that they had received payment under the Scheme in the previous year. They are then asked that, if they wish to apply in the current scheme year, they tick the box stating “I wish to apply for ANC”.

If they are no longer eligible to apply, or do not wish to apply, they are advised to tick the box stating “I do not want to apply for ANC”. It is not possible for these applicants to proceed with their BPS application until they have selected one of these two options.

The Department also produced a guide to the 2021 ANC scheme which issued to all eligible applicants and included an illustrated full colour guide with images to guide applicants through the process of applying for the ANC scheme online.

Applicants who do not tick the box to apply for the ANC scheme at the time of application, and subsequently wish to do so, are entitled to submit an appeal to the ANC section of the Department to request they be allowed to access the scheme on the grounds of Force Majeure/Exceptional Circumstances. Applicants should set out the grounds of their appeal and provide any relevant supporting documentation. All appeals received will be reviewed and assessed on a case-by-case basis and provided with a written notification of the outcome of their appeal. Where an appeal is deemed to be unsuccessful by the Department, applicants are eligible to submit a further appeal to the independent Agriculture Appeals office.


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