A farmer friend of mine was settling after his supper to watch Offaly play Laois on TG4 on Monday evening when his phone rang.

An 057 number, was it related to the game? No, it was the Department of Agriculture. Calling at five past seven in the evening. His heart sank, what had he done wrong now?

“We’re just calling to remind you that the BPS deadline is at midnight tonight”, the caller said.

“Just to say, don’t forget to submit your application.”

The farmer wondered why he was being chosen for such close personal attention. “We’re calling everyone who has started a draft application but hasn’t submitted it as yet. There’s too much money at stake”.

Now I’m as quick as anyone to criticise the powers that be when it’s merited, but on this occasion, bualadh bos to Portlaoise and all the Department team for going the extra mile to ensure farmers get their applications over the line.