DAERA IT issues are preventing essential forms being submitted – UFU
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has called on DAERA to fix their IT systems urgently as the current issues are preventing farmers and agriculture agents from completing essential forms that must be submitted in line with rigid deadlines.
UFU president David Brown said they had received “many complaints from frustrated members” informing them that they Department’s IT system is not working to its full capacity, thus creating additional stress and pressure.
“This level of service is completely unacceptable,” said Mr Brown.
“DAERA continually expects farmers to work to deadlines, and yet, if the farmer narrowly misses the timescale, they are hit with heavy penalties regardless of the reason why. DAERA’s behaviour at present is hypocritical.
“At the very least, Northern Ireland farmers must be given extensions and flexibility for any impending deadlines in line with when the information is available again online.
“DAERA have spent millions on this system and yet it is still not fit for purpose. There have been continual problems with NIFAIS since its implementation several months ago. Our members have been extremely patient and have done their best to tolerate what could once be called ‘teething problems’, but we have long past that point.”
He added that marts have also had “serious difficulties” with the new IT system, with delays in entering cattle information, making a straightforward task “very aggravating”.
“We demand a full explanation on the timescale for getting these IT problems solved urgently, and what procedures DAERA direct offices will implement,” said Mr Brown.
“In the meantime, we urge farmers who are experiencing issues to visit their local DAERA direct office and demand solutions and better IT service. Many farmers received out of office emails when they enquired about the issues, which is unacceptable considering how important the online information is to meeting deadlines set by DAERA.”