5 May 1995

Many still at risk of late form penalties

By Philip Clarke

ONCE again, farmers appear to be leaving completing their IACS forms until the last minute, despite the dangers this entails.

By Apr 28, MAFF had received just 30,000 of the 80,000-plus forms sent out, a number of which were wrong. Things have improved since then, but with just 10 days to go to the May 15 deadline, over half have still to be completed.

Penalties for late forms are severe. For each day they are late, all payments covered by the system (area aids, set-aside, beef special premium, suckler cow premium, HLCAs and sheep annual premium) will be cut by 1%. Run over 20 days late and the entire aid entitlement will probably be lost.

After being fairly lenient in year one of IACS and less so in year two, this time only the most minor of errors will be exempt from penalties, warns the ministry.

Any corrections to forms must be notified to the Regional Service Centre or District Officer before any field inspections to be valid.

Penalties for inaccurate form filling are tough. For example, where the total area is found to be less than the area claimed, the lower figure will be used as the basis for aid payments.

But this area will be reduced progressively as the size of the error rises. Thus:

lA 2% to 10% discrepancy will lead to an adjustment of twice the difference.

lA 10% to 20% discrepancy will lead to a 30% cut in the area accepted.

lOver 20% discrepancy, no aid will be paid.

If this last case relates to set-aside, then all the set-aside and arable area payments will be lost. If it relates to forage area, all livestock aid will be lost.

But in cases of force majeure (for example, fire or flood) the applicant has 10 days in which to notify the authorities, who will judge each case on its merits.