An application under the new REP scheme was received from the person named on 26 February 2001 and is at present being processed. A comprehensive desk check is carried out on each new application and a percentage are also chosen for an on-farm pre-payment inspection.
The protocol on direct payments to farmers sets down time limits for the processing of REPS applications and for payment once the applications are accepted. The period allowed for the processing of applications is 14 weeks if they are selected for pre-payment inspection and 12 weeks if they are not. Payment is to be made within a further month.
My Department suspended on-farm visits on 23 February in the light of the foot and mouth disease emergency. The situation is under ongoing review which will take account of developments with regard to foot and mouth disease. However, my Department must also at all times have regard to the controls needed to maintain the integrity of the scheme and to protect my Department's accreditation with the EU as a paying agency.