The number of farmers using the internet to submit their Single Payment Scheme applications has virtually doubled.
By the 16 May deadline, the Rural Payments Agency had received 30,850 electronic applications for SPS 2011 – an increase of more than 90% from 2010 when 16,054 online applications were submitted.
Half of these applications were from farmers and agents who are using the online and farm software services for the first time.
The number of farmers using the SPS Online service up to the 16 May deadline doubled from 13,279 in 2010 to 27,081 in 2011.
The total number of applications received so far is around 105,000 – which means that about a third have been electronic applications.
The RPA online service highlights common errors so they can be corrected before the application is submitted.
Farmers and agents also get an instant receipt so they know their application has arrived at the agency.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” said RPA customer services adviser Simon Lunniss. “Farmers and agents find it quicker, easier and more reassuring to apply online.”
This is only the second year that online applications have been available.
“We were hoping to increase the number of electronic applications by 50% this year and have more than achieved that,” said Mr Lunniss.
Farmers yet to apply are encouraged to go online before the final closure of the application period at midnight on Friday 10 June.
Applications submitted between now and the final cut-off point are subject to progressive late application reductions.
After 10 June, applications will be rejected.