Preliminary checks on online Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications begin this week, allowing farmers to rectify any such non-compliance issues by 19 June.

No penalty will be applied where the non-compliance is fully rectified by that date.

The purpose of this provision is to enhance the correctness of BPS applications with the aim of lowering reductions and administrative penalties, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Full administrative checks are still required before payment issues.

The European Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, introduced the concept of preliminary checks as part of the simplification agenda in 2016.

Who do preliminary checks apply to?

Preliminary checks can only be applied to online BPS applicants.

As the Department continues to progress towards the EU regulatory requirement of 100% online BPS application by 2018, it said these checks add a further benefit to farmers who apply online and increase the efficiency with which BPS applications can be processed.

Where a preliminary check identifies such an issue applicants are given the opportunity to amend their claim. Applicants may wish to retain their original claim, or to amend their claim in light of the preliminary check.

For example, where a preliminary check highlights a dual claim the response can:

  • Confirm that the applicant asserts the right to claim the dual claimed parcel, or
  • Withdraw the relevant parcel without penalty where the land may have been inadvertently claimed.
  • How will farmers be notified of preliminary checks?

    Where a preliminary check identifies a dual claim, overclaim, or overlap, a notification will issue on the BPS online system – i.e. no paper based notification will issue, the Department advises.

    Farmers and advisers should thus check the correspondence section of their BPS online account.

    Where a farmer is signed up for text message alerts, a text will issue to advise them that they have a notification on their BPS account.

    Where a farmer has applied online through an adviser, the adviser will receive notification via the BPS online account in respect of any of his/her clients where a preliminary check has identified a dual claim, overclaim or overlap.

    Farmers who have applied through an adviser will also get a text message alert where they are signed up for this service.

    What should I do if I get a notification arising from a preliminary check?

    When a notification/text message alert of a preliminary check is received, farmers should:

  • Log into your BPS online account to read the notification. Where a preliminary check has identified a dual claim, overlap, or overclaim there will be a clear indication of this in the centre of the BPS homescreen.
  • Farmers who have applied through an adviser should contact their adviser in relation to responding to the preliminary check.
  • How do I respond to a preliminary check?

    Where preliminary checks have identified an overclaim, overlap or dual claim, this will be clearly signalled on the homescreen of the BPS online application system.

    A farmer or adviser can click the “View Preliminary Checks” button to see the detail in each case. It is important to note that:

  • A preliminary check can only be responded to once.
  • In each instance, the farmer/adviser will be given the opportunity to either amend his/her original claim to take account of the preliminary check or to maintain the original claim.
  • There will be instances where it is valid to maintain the original claim – for example, in the instance of a possible overclaim identified, where an area of scrub has been removed and brought back into agricultural use with a resultant increase in eligible area.
  • Where a response to a preliminary check is sufficient to fully rectify the issue at hand, no penalty will apply.
  • Further administrative checks will still need to be carried out on all applications and thus further issues and reductions/penalties may arise later in the process in respect of any application.
  • Will all online applicants get a notification of a preliminary check?

    No. An action is only required of farmers/advisers where a preliminary check has identified a dual claim, overclaim or overlap on an application.

    A step-by-step outline is available to guide farmers and advisers through the process of responding to a preliminary check on the Department’s website.

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