By FWi staff

MANY farmers are experiencing problems when trying to submit their IACS forms electronically.

Despite claims by MAFF that the move to electronic forms will speed the process and reduce errors, some farmers are finding that it is taking twice as long as filling the forms out manually.

The main complaints seem to be of time-consuming registration and inaccurate information provided by MAFF.

Johan Balslev, who farms in Cornwall, found the exercise very time consuming, frustrating and costly.

“It took me four hours online to eventually complete the form, which undoubtedly cost more than the traditional manual method,” he said.

While Mr Balslev accepted the ministry was stretched due to the foot-and-mouth crisis, he could not forgive their “evasive and misleading information”.

Registration was another concern for a farmer near Worcester, who followed MAFFs advice by obtaining a certificate online, rather than travelling to his local regional service centre.

Only after days of waiting for various PIN numbers to arrive, was he informed that the electronic certificate was not acceptable at that time.

A pilot project was implemented a year ago, which was deemed successful enough to forge ahead with the live version.

However, the MAFF spokesman said that the ministry could only learn so much from a small pilot.

Up to 8000 electronic forms were expected to be processed this spring, about 10% of all applications.

The deadline for submission of IACS forms is 15 May, although alterations can be made until 15 June. MAFF added that only 30% had been returned by last Friday, May 4.

“The sooner claims are sent in, the sooner we can iron out any problems, with the result that payments will be made more quickly,” said a spokesman.

For anyone experiencing problems in submitting their forms, particularly where regional service centres have been closed due to foot-and-mouth, telephone applications will also be acceptable.

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