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Minister Creed Announces 2017 BPS Preliminary Checks

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., today announced that preliminary checks for online Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applicants have now commenced. The Department will be notifying online BPS applicants of any non-compliance in the areas of overclaims, dual claims, and overlaps which arise from these preliminary checks.  Applicants will then be given an opportunity to rectify any non-compliance online by 19th June. There will be no penalty or reduction where such non-compliance is fully rectified by that date.

Minister Creed commented “My Department is continuing to encourage more farmers to apply for BPS online given the range of advantages that the online system offers. Preliminary checks are a key element of this approach and will help to improve the accuracy of BPS applications and to reduce penalties for farmers particularly under the BPS and the Areas of Natural Constraints scheme.  Some 7,500 farmers will receive the benefit of the first run of preliminary checks.

The Minister added “Almost 114,000 or 87% of our BPS applicants applied online this year as we move toward the EU regulatory requirement of 100% BPS online application in 2018. These preliminary checks will provide very real benefits for farmers applying online for this essential support and help to facilitate the processing of the maximum number of applicants for payment.”

Where a preliminary check identifies an overclaim, dual claim or overlap on a BPS application, a notification will issue online to the farmer / advisor in question.  Where a farmer is registered for text message alerts, a text will issue informing the farmer that a preliminary check notification has issued.  The farmer / advisor will then have the opportunity to rectify any non-compliance without penalty by the deadline of 19th June.

Minister Creed continued “I would urge any farmers and advisors who receive a preliminary check notification to address this via the BPS online system at the earliest possible date given that all responses must be made by 19th June.  Where an application has been made via an advisor, the advisor will have received a notification also.  The successful implementation of these preliminary checks in 2016 brought significant benefits to online BPS applicants and I encourage all farmers or their advisors to respond online before the deadline.”

In order to help farmers and advisors to respond to preliminary checks, a number of supports are in place.  Further information is available on the Department’s website www.agriculture.gov.ie and on www.agfood.ie , including a step by step guide for farmers and advisors to assist them with the process of responding to a preliminary check.

If a farmer or advisor receives a notification of a preliminary check they can contact the Direct Payments Helpdesk at 0761 064420 where a member of staff will be available to talk them through the process of responding.

Notes for Editors

What are preliminary checks?

Preliminary checks are essentially pre-checks for online BPS applications to notify applicants of any non-compliance in the areas of overclaims, dual claims, and overlaps.  Farmers are now being offered the opportunity to rectify any such non-compliance by the deadline of 19 June with no penalty applied where the non-compliance is fully rectified by that date.

The purpose of this provision is to enhance the correctness of BPS applications with the aim of lowering reductions and administrative penalties.  Full administrative checks are still required before payment issues. 

Who do preliminary checks apply to?

Preliminary checks can only be applied to online BPS applicants.  As the Department continues to progress towards the EU regulatory requirement of 100% online BPS application by 2018, these checks add a further benefit to farmers who apply online and increase the efficiency with which BPS applications can be processed.

What kind of issues are addressed by preliminary checks?

Preliminary checks will identify any overclaims, overlaps or dual claims in respect of online BPS applications.  Where a preliminary check identifies such an issue applicants are given the opportunity to amend their claim.  Applicants may wish to retain their original claim, or to amend their claim in light of the preliminary check.

For example, where a preliminary check highlights a dual claim the response can

  • Confirm that the applicant asserts the right to claim the dual claimed parcel, or
  • Withdraw the relevant parcel without penalty where the land may have been inadvertently claimed.

What are the timeframes for preliminary checks?

The first run of preliminary checks has commenced.  All responses must be made by midnight on 19th June.  All notifications and responses can only be made via the online BPS system.  No late responses can be submitted after 19th June.

How will farmers be notified of preliminary checks?

Where a preliminary check identifies a dual claim, overclaim, or overlap, a notification will issue on the BPS online system – i.e. no paper based notification will issue.  Farmers and advisors should thus check the correspondence section of their BPS online account.  Where a farmer is signed up for text message alerts, a text will issue to advise them that they have a notification on their BPS account.

Where a farmer has applied online through an advisor, the advisor will receive notification via the BPS online account in respect of any of his / her clients where a preliminary check has identified a dual claim, overclaim or overlap.  Farmers who have applied through an advisor will also get a text message alert where they are signed up for this service.

Approximately 1,000 farmers are receiving the benefit of a preliminary check and have not applied online via an agent for their BPS.  These farmers will be contacted separately and advised as to how to respond to their preliminary check online.

What should I do if I get a notification arising from a preliminary check?

When a notification / text message alert of a preliminary check is received, you should

  • Log into your BPS online account to read the notification.  Where a preliminary check has identified a dual claim, overlap, or overclaim there will be a clear indication of this in the centre of the BPS home screen.
  • Farmers who have applied through an advisor should contact their advisor in relation to responding the preliminary check.

How do I respond to a preliminary check?

Where preliminary checks have identified an overclaim, overlap or dual claim, this will be clearly signalled on the home screen of the BPS online application system.

A farmer or advisor can click the “View Preliminary Checks” button to see the detail in each case.  It is important to note that

  • A preliminary check can only be responded to once.
  • In each instance, the farmer / advisor will be given the opportunity to either amend his/her original claim to take account of the preliminary check or to maintain the original claim.  There will be instances where it is valid to maintain the original claim – for example, in the instance of a possible overclaim identified, where an area of scrub has been removed and brought back into agricultural use with a resultant increase in eligible area.
  • Where a response to a preliminary check is sufficient to fully rectify the issue at hand, no penalty will apply.
  • Further administrative checks will still need to be carried out on all applications and thus further issues and reductions/penalties may arise later in the process in respect of any application.

Will all online applicants get a notification of a preliminary check?

No. An action is only required of farmers / advisors where a preliminary check has identified a dual claim, overclaim or overlap on an application.

What supports are available?

In order to help farmers and advisors to respond to preliminary checks, a number of supports are in place.  Further information is available on the Department’s website www.agriculture.gov.ie and on www.agfood.ie,  including a step by step guide for farmers and advisors to assist them with the process of responding to a preliminary check.

If a farmer or advisor receives a notification of a preliminary check they can contact the Direct Payments Helpdesk at 0761 064420 where a member of staff will be available to talk them through the process of responding.

To view this Press release as a PDF: DAFMPR 95/2017 (pdf 397Kb) 

Date Released: 01 June 2017