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FUW warns millions of pounds at stake over unchecked farm data

The Farmers' Union of Wales today warned that farmers who fail to check their Single Application Form (SAF) statements for errors risk losing tens of thousands of pounds.

The warning comes on the eve of the May 15 SAF deadline, after which hefty penalties are incurred for late forms, and less than a month before the June 11 deadline when late forms and corrections are automatically rejected.

FUW president Emyr Jones said: “The complexity of SAF forms adds significantly to the risk of errors being made on forms, but once the deadline for submitting forms or corrections has passed there is virtually nothing which can be done. One tick box filled in incorrectly can cost you a year’s income.

“Every year the FUW deals with farm businesses which have lost vast sums, and in almost all cases these penalties could have been avoided if farmers had checked their SAF statements.”

The Welsh Government warns farmers it is their own responsibility to ensure that the information they provide, including the pre-printed information, is correct.

If they take their SAF 2012 to a Welsh Government office in person staff there can only carry out basic checks to ensure it is acceptable for scanning processes. Acceptance of the form does not imply that it is complete or that all details are correct.

Mr Jones added that in previous years the FUW had encountered a number of scanning errors made by the Welsh Government which could have significantly delayed payments.

“This is another good reason to check the SAF statement. It may be very unjust that an error made in a government office has no repercussions, while an error made by a farmer can lead to the loss of everything. But the bottom line is that EU regulations make it illegal to make submissions or corrections after the June 11 deadline.”

“It is, therefore, essential that people take the time to check their SAF statements for accuracy. A good place to start is by looking at the amount of total forage area declared which can often alert you to obvious problems.

“If you haven’t received any kind of acknowledgement that WAG has received your form, then you should contact WAG as soon as possible in case the form has somehow been lost.”

Examples of avoidable penalties which regularly hit farm businesses due to minor errors on forms include:

Where the difference between the area declared and area determined is more than either 3% or 2 hectares, but not more than 20% of the determined area, the area eligible for payment is reduced by twice the difference found.

Where the difference is more than 20% of the determined area no payment will be made for the claim.

Where the area declared is more than 50% of the determined area, in addition to receiving no payment for 2012, the claim in the next calendar year will be reduced by an amount equal to the amount which corresponds to the difference between the area declared and the area determined.

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