Plans by the Department of Agriculture to have every application for the Single Farm Payment done online from next year is unfair on the many farmers who do not have a proper broadband service or do not know how to use a computer and any such system should be phased in,
I have written to the Minister to ask him to delay this new system until a proper broadband service is delivered to all areas of rural Ireland. Even if there was proper broadband service there are many farmers who have never used a computer and they have to be facilitated too. The move to having all applications online should be done on a phased basis. There are younger farmers who are au fait with the computer system and how it works, and if this online system is phased in over a number of years, it will happen naturally. Let’s not force farmers into a situation where they will not even bother filling the forms in because of the hassle involved or because they can’t use a computer. A lot of older farmers in their 60’s and 70’s are in a situation where they simply cannot fill in the forms online. They have worked hard and farmed all their lives without ever learning how to use a computer. The Minister and the Department must show some compassion on this issue. They should set a target of five to ten years to accomplish all applications being done online and that target will be met without any complications, but we must treat all farmers equally and fairly in the interim.