WITH THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) thought likely to provide Member States the option to extend the deadline for submission of the SAF from 15 May to 15 June, the Deputy Minister has moved to clarify the Welsh Government’s position in advance of any EC announcement to ensure there is no uncertainty within the industry. The Deputy Minister said: “I am very aware of the importance of cash flow for farmers and therefore I am not planning to take up the option to extend the deadline as it will delay the start of part payments to all claimants. I have weighed up all options available to us and, as a result, have decided the SAF deadline in Wales will remain at May 15.
“In Wales, the RPW Online application process is working very well since it became available in February. Feedback from the industry is very positive and farming unions have been encouraging the use of the online service. As of this week, over 1,400 SAFs had been submitted, more than twice as many as were received by the same time last year.” The SAF is used by farmers to claim their Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and land based rural development payments. However, SAFs will take longer to complete this year compared to previous years given this is the first year of the new scheme. Any delay to the receipt of SAFs would inevitably have knock-on impacts to part payments under the BPS and to payments on existing land-based rural development schemes.
As the funding for the Rural Development Plan 2007 – 2013 ends on December 31, any funding not utilised by this deadline would have to be handed back to the European Commission and lost to Wales. Any outstanding payments would then need to be funded from the new Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020 thereby reducing the fund for new projects. The Deputy Minister urged all farmers to complete and submit their SAF as soon as they can this year to avoid late penalties or being out of time to apply for entitlements in this critical year.