Farmers need help moving online, says Murphy

Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon-Galway, Eugene Murphy has called on the Minister for Agriculture to roll out a series of planned Basic Payment Scheme (BPS ) clinics in a bid to help farmers make the transition to online applications.

Deputy Murphy recently tabled a Parliamentary Question with the Department of Agriculture querying what steps had been taken in order to facilitate farmers who were unable to make their BPS applications online.

“2018 is the first year that applications for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS ) are required to be submitted online,” Deputy Murphy said. “This is a very daunting experience for some farmers. For many of them it could be the first time that they have had to engage with the online applications process.

“The minister indicated that a range of supports to farmers will be rolled out over the coming weeks, including a series of BPS clinics in locations throughout the country. I would urge the minister to roll out these clinics as a matter of urgency and on a wide scale. The minister has indicated that these clinics will enable farmers to sit with an official from the department, who will guide them through the process of submitting their application online there and then. I understand that the location details in relation to these clinics are currently being finalised.”

Deputy Murphy added that while these clinics are most welcome they will be a complete waste of time if the broadband connectivity is not there in the first place.

“There are families, farmers and businesses throughout rural areas including my constituency of Roscommon-Galway who are extremely worried that they will never get the broadband they need,” he said. “How will farmers be able complete applications for schemes online if they don’t have proper broadband. There should be special concessions for farmers from counties such as Roscommon, as we have appalling broadband connectivity in County Roscommon.”

Deputy Murphy said the minister has indicated that there will be other supports available to farmers, such as telephone help lines and ‘how to’ guides.

“It is imperative that all the necessary supports are being put in place to ensure that all farmers are able to access these important payments,” he concluded.

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