Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has paid tribute to DAERA staff and farm agents for submitting and processing the 24,494 Single Application Forms this year.
The chair of the Agriculture committee said:
“The completion and submission of the Single Application Forms (SAF) is a bureaucratic and challenging process in normal times. However, to process 24,494 applications along with 5994 entitlement transfers in such challenging circumstances with farmers isolating and staff working from home is exceptional and deserves the highest of praise.
“With DAERA Direct offices closed to the public, staff have been working from home providing enhanced SAF support.
“A service was also in place for DAERA staff to submit the application forms online for farmers who have no access to broadband or a computer. 1186 farm businesses availed of this and service will remain in place to assist farmers and agents to amend applications by the 9th June deadline.
“Farm agents also deserve the highest of praise for their efforts.
“I spoke to many who have been working endless hours until late at night for the past number of months to get farmer’s application forms submitted on time.
“They are a lifeline for farmers, helping them through a bureaucratic and challenging task.”