The online Single Application service has opened for 2018, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has announced.

DAERA will not be issuing paper versions of the Single Application this year. The deadline for receipt of all Single Applications and supporting evidence is May 15, 2018.

Almost 10,000 farmers switched to online application in 2017. It meant 99.2% of applications were submitted online in 2017.

However, it comes as union officials say the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture’s plans for herd birth and movement registrations to go paperless by May are “too ambitious”.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) recently met with DAERA to discuss the department’s proposals for the phased withdrawal of paper registration and movement documents for livestock and says a consultation should be held first.

The online Single Application is the only method for claiming under any of the following schemes:

  • Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Greening Payment;
  • Young Farmers’ Payment (YFP);
  • Regional Reserve Entitlement allocation or top up (as a 'Young Farmer' or 'New Entrant');
  • Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) Agreements;
  • Northern Ireland Countryside Management Scheme (NICMS);
  • Farm Woodland Premium Scheme (FWPS);
  • Farm Woodland Scheme (FWS);
  • Forest Expansion Scheme (Annual Premia).

You must also use the Single Application and maps service to tell DAERA about any changes to your land. You can no longer do this on paper.

Benefits of online application include:

  • Enables DAERA to make advance part payments;
  • You can view your map within your online SAF;
  • You can make changes to your map which automatically update your field data tables;
  • You can make changes to your application up to May 15;
  • Error alerts;
  • Greater accuracy, reducing the possibility of penalties;
  • Convenience – quick and easy to use;
  • Safe and secure;
  • Notification that application has been received.

In addition to their Single Application, applicants may be required to submit additional forms or evidence as part of the application process.

In some cases applicants may need to attend a DAERA Direct Office to provide supporting evidence within the appropriate deadlines.

August floods – Force Majeure

Land damaged as a result of the floods on August 22, 2017 - which remains temporarily unavailable for use during the whole or part of the 2018 scheme year - can still be included under the 'Force Majeure' clause.

Applicants should still include that land on their Single Application and submit an application for force majeure (Form FML 1).

You must provide evidence of the efforts made / steps taken to return this land to agricultural activity to date - together with an indication of when this land will come back into agricultural use for consideration.

Land which will return to agricultural use within a reasonable time without intervention, as a result of natural regeneration, will also be considered.

Advisory Service

DAERA advisors can be contacted by phone on: 0300-200-7848 (Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm) or on the web chat facility.

The department will also be running a series of workshops in Enniskillen, Cookstown and Antrim where farmers can learn how to complete their applications online.

In 2017, more than 300 people attended workshops and many chose to complete their application on the night.

Places can be booked by calling: 028-7131-9955. This is an appointment only service so call early to secure your place.

Agents and Authorised People

Alternatively, you can use the services of an agent or trusted person that you know, such as a relative or friend, who can be given online access to complete your application on your behalf.

You will need to complete a form to nominate an authorised person if you have not previously done so.

You can download this form from the DAERA website.