Farmland in Northern Ireland© Rex

The deadline for single farm payment (SFP) applications remains 15 May in Northern Ireland – despite the EU offering a one-month extension.

The NI Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Dard) said it was sticking by the original deadline because it was a “familiar date for farmers”.

A department spokesman said changing the date this late on might cause “more confusion” and later submission of Single Application Forms (SAFs) would delay administration of the schemes.

See also: Minister announces record SFP performance for Northern Ireland

“It will result in later selection for on-the-spot checks, later entitlement allocations and ultimately later payments, that is, potentially not possible to pay until 2016,” he added.

Farmers have the opportunity to submit claims online or on paper forms. The application window opened on 12 March.

A spokeswoman for the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said it did not have a position on the government’s decision to freeze the deadline date yet.

But she urged farmers to get on with their payment applications and, if possible, try to submit them online to reduce the risk of late payments.

Meanwhile, the UFU has met senior Dard officials to discuss the difficulties associated with the implementation of greening in Northern Ireland.

UFU deputy president Barclay Bell said there was still “great uncertainty” around the guidance for the greening payment as Dard’s guidance booklet was “still only in draft form”.