Time running out for farmers to complete the SAF

NFU Scotland has pressed Scottish Government to ensure the recent improvements to the speed of the online system remain as the number of online users will grow significantly in the coming weeks.

Only if the speed is maintained will there be sufficient time to ensure that all planned online Single Application Forms (SAF) are submitted by the 15 June deadline.

Following a meeting with Scottish Government officials today (Tuesday 5 May), the Union has recognised the recent attempts to improve the performance of the online system has resulted in some improvement in speed and pressed the need for contingency arrangement to remain in place should they be required.

Feedback from individual members and consultants responsible for submitting the forms on behalf of farmers had led the Union to question whether the system will be able to cope with the level of online applications expected between now and the extended deadline of 15 June.

Speaking after the meeting with Scottish Government officials, NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie said: “The Union has been in daily contact with the Scottish Government about the performance of the online system for submitting SAF claims.

“Farmers and farm advisers have repeatedly complained about how slow the system operates and that it is difficult to use. The majority of SAF applications will be completed by farm advisors and they have been struggling to get through their workload because of the speed of the system.

“Several attempts have been made to improve the performance of the system and it appears that in the last few days the most recent attempts to improve performance have borne fruit. Reports we have had back from advisers and farmers is that the speed of the system has markedly improved.

“These speed improvements need to stick, especially as we expect an increase in the volume of SAF claims submitted in the coming weeks, if online SAF applications are to be submitted in enough numbers between now and the 15 June.

“We remain convinced that electronic application should be the preferred route as completing a SAF online has the benefit for the farmer of helping with validation when it comes to complying with greening requirements and has the benefit to the industry of ensuring that payments can be made timely. However, we need to ensure that contingency arrangements remain in place should they be required and have pressed the government to make sure the necessary arrangements are in place.

“We urge those farmers not yet registered on the new Rural Payments and Services system to do so now and encourage farmers not to put off completing their SAF but to start it now. The clock is now ticking please don’t leave it too late.”

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