Map problems prompt Scots to demand SAF deadline extension

Scottish farm leaders are demanding an extension to the 2016 Single Application Form (SAF) deadline, following complaints that mapping problems are stopping farmers from being able to submit their claims.

The current deadline for applications is 16 May, but EU farm commissioner Phil Hogan announced last week that member states have the discretion to extend the deadline if they need to.

The authorities in England, Northern Ireland and Wales have already indicated they have no plans to do this, because of fears it will cause knock-on payment delays.

See also: Defra has ‘no plans’ to extend BPS deadline

However, with only a quarter of forms in Scotland currently submitted there is more pressure to give Scottish farmers extra time.

In a statement issued on Thursday afternoon (5 May), NFU Scotland president Allan Bowie said an application extension would be discussed with Scottish government officials on Friday (6 May).

“We had hoped that the deeply flawed £180m IT system installed to deliver new CAP schemes would have improved to the extent that an extension to the application window would not have been necessary,” he said.

“While the majority report that the application process is improved, many members have yet to receive the up-to-date maps for their farms from Scottish government needed to make their 2016 claim and time must be allowed for that to happen.”

Asked earlier this week if they would extend the deadline until June, a government spokesman said: “We are aware that NFU Scotland plans to discuss the issue later this week, after which we will urgently engage with ministers and reach a decision.” 

According to figures supplied by the Scottish government, by 3 May it had received just under 5,000 forms and it expects to receive 20,000-21,000 forms in total.

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