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TMCNet:  Am I the only one stumped by e-SAF? ; APPLE USER RAGES AT NEW WEB SYSTEM FOR SUBSIDIES [Daily Post (Liverpool, England)]

[April 17, 2014]

Am I the only one stumped by e-SAF? ; APPLE USER RAGES AT NEW WEB SYSTEM FOR SUBSIDIES [Daily Post (Liverpool, England)]

(Daily Post (Liverpool, England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) TORY AM and farmer Antoinette Sandbach has complained of an "IT shambles" in her attempts to apply for farm payments on-line.

After discovering her Apple Mac computer was incompatible with the Rural Payments Wales website, the North Wales AM struggled to access the new on-line Single Application Form (SAF) on her internet browser.

But far from the "shambles" that Ms Sandbach described, it seems most Welsh farmers have accessed on-line SAFs with few problems. Just two Apple users have reported issues.

The Welsh Government said the Rural Payments Wales (RPW) Online system was already Ms Sandbach popular with farmers, with 1,254 online SAFs submitted since February 19.

"This is higher than the amount of paper forms we have received to date, demonstrating farmers' acceptance of the new system," said a spokeswoman.

Ms Sandbach, whose family farms in the Elwy Valley, hit a snag when updating land ownership records after the death of her father.

She fears some farmers, lacking the right software, will have to submit paper versions instead.

And as paper SAFs cannot be lodged at Welsh Assembly offices until April 28, Ms Sandbach worries some farmers will be rushed into completing their forms before the May 15 deadline. She said: "Like many people, I use an Apple Mac as I find it synchs well with my smart phone and tablet. But when I sat down to log into the RPW online site and complete the SAF, I got nowhere.


"When I tried logging on with a PC, all I got was a screen full of code.

"I am now stumped on what to do." The Welsh Government said some of Ms Sandbach's claims were inaccurate and may cause "unnecessary worry".

It said internet browsers such as Google Chrome and Firefox were compatible, provided built-in PDF readers were disabled. The preferred option is the latest version of Internet Explorer.

Cardiff accepted that RPW On-line wasn't yet Apple compliant. "Research found that the vast majority of farmers in Wales do not use Apple devices and, therefore, Windows-based browsers were prioritised," said a spokeswoman.

"This is reflected in the fact that, to date, we have received just two calls relating to this issue.

"Given the increasing popularity of Apple products, it was always planned to enhance the system to accommodate them for future years." Dylan Morgan, NFU Cymru's deputy director, said reports of problems to the union had been "quite low".

He added: "There have been times when the system has been down and we are aware that there have been browser issues. But the RPW helpline has been very useful in resolving these issues." FUW policy director Rhian Nowell-Phillips added: "Aside from the odd glitch, we are not receiving many complaints from our counties." (c) 2014 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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