Single Farm Payments concerns expressed

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Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
farmerSlieve Gullion Area Councillor Terry Hearty has confirmed that his colleague Mickey Brady has written to the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA) to voice his concern in relation to the non accessibility of application forms for Single Farm Payments in a paper format. The South Armagh Councillor explained, “The Department has written to farmers informing them that paper applications for Single Farm Payments are no longer accepted and all must be completed online. “This will, I am very sure, cause serious inconvenience and distress to many of our farmers due to a wide range of reasons such as age, and computer skills but most importantly lack of accessibility to broadband services.”
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Jan End 2017The Sinn Féin representative continued, “Although the DEARA is going to put on information evenings and workshops this will not be of assistance to the elderly farming population or for rural areas where there is a lack of broad band coverage.
“There will have to be flexibility as there continues to be a lack of broadband accessibility, the “not spots” and whilst we are informed that investment and work is ongoing, the Agriculture Officials must be able to be flexible with applicants. Newry & Armagh MP Mickey Brady has written to the Department raising his concerns and asking for that flexibility”. His colleague, Newry & Armagh Assembly Election Candidate Megan Fearon, said, “Many people living in rural communities feel that limited access to good signal and a reliable internet connection is ‘holding back’ their business. “It is essential that there has to be continued focus from all Departments and Agencies, on rural communities and improving living standards, with broadband being an area that requires urgent attention. Farmers in particular have been hindered by poor connectivity issues for a considerable amount of time.
She added, “Myself and my Sinn Féin colleagues want to see parity for farmers and all rural customers and a cure for the connectivity issues that are holding their businesses back.”
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