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The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has confirmed that 24,494 Single Applications were received by midnight on 15 May 2020.

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA thanked farmers, agents and his own staff for working together to ensure that Applications were received on time, despite the added operating difficulties due to Covid-19 restrictions.

He said: “I’d like to thank farmers, agents and DAERA staff for working together during this challenging period to ensure that Single Applications were submitted on time. We received 24,494 Applications, 64 more than this time last year.

“After stopping face to face interactions in DAERA Direct Offices on 25 March, my Department adapted rapidly and proactively to the changing circumstances to ensure farmers and agents continued to receive assistance when required.

“We enhanced our telephone advisory service, which enabled 1,190 farmers to provide their application over the phone. Our trained staff responded to more than 7,000 queries through webchats, emails, and telephone calls."

Minister Poots added that the Department should be in position to issue full payments in October.

He said: “As a result of everyone’s efforts we should be in a position to distribute full payments in October - a first for Northern Ireland farmers and ahead of every part of the EU and UK. This is a demonstration of the efficiency that has been developed by DAERA in dealing with payments and the Department’s willingness to get the money on farms at the earliest available opportunity.”

Minister Poots also reminded farmers that they can amend applications up to 9 June without penalty.

“This has been a tough year for farmers and they’ll be relying heavily on their Basic Payment. It is therefore important to ensure claims are accurate. So I would like to remind farmers and agents that amendments can be made up to 9 June 2020 without any financial penalty being incurred,” he added.