So today the Aberdeen Journal is running the story that SAF Applications are about to reach the half-way milestone, as per the protestations of the Farm Minister Richard Lochhead.
But, this is not a rubber stamping of the success of the £200million Rural Payments System that is currently around £100m over budget.
No, instead the news release identifies that 40% of Farmers have had to resort to pen and paper to get their applications in on time so that they can receive their monies – and this doesn’t mean that those 40% have actually been entered onto the System yet – they’ve simply been received.
For the SAFs to be submitted was the only milestone for the Scottish Government and if they are submitted on paper then they are submitted and the Government can tick the success box. Still, somebody has to transcribe these forms into the new CAPs system and the likelihood is that this will not happen by the deadline.
Those who have tried using the new CAPs system will know that you are looking at more than 2 hours of effort to enter a SAF and that is if the system works.
So, if we look at the task ahead, 10,000 SAFs still to be entered into the system, and the 40% of SAFs submitted on paper makes a total of 14,000 SAFs to be entered in just three weeks.
At 2 hours per SAF, that’s 28,000 man hours and on the assumption of 40 hours per week that is 700 man weeks of effort.
So, with only 3 weeks left to go the Scottish Government would need to employ over 230 staff, working flat out with no breaks to do nothing but enter each and every SAF with only 2 hours to enter each one.
If you are a farmer who wants his subsidies then the advice is simple – submit your SAF on paper, keep a copy of it and get a receipt to prove it has been submitted.
If you are actually entering SAFs into the new CAPs system. Good luck!
Next, it has to be processed! That part of the system is still being written. Let’s see if they can do that without spending another £200m.
Don’t hold your breath.