UFU encourage members to complete Agriculture and Horticulture Census

Wednesday, 10 June, 2020

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is asking members who received letters regarding the annual Agriculture and Horticulture Census, to complete the application online. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (DAERA) took the decision to move the 2020 census online entirely, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

UFU deputy president David Brown said, “We are encouraging our farmers and growers who received a letter from DAERA to complete the application online. It is a legal requirement and the information members provide will be extremely valuable to the Department influencing their decision-making process and the shaping of policies. The time that farmers and growers give to this application will help provide a greater understanding of the Northern Ireland agriculture industry which DAERA can avail of to support family-run farm businesses and the wider agri-food industry.”

The UFU are disappointed about the online transition of the census application but are conscious that DAERA want to take extra precautions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“DAERA have removed the Less Favoured Area (LFA) land questions from the online census for 2020, again we are disappointed to see that this section is not included this year. The LFA statistics serve an important purpose and are particularly vital as discussions take place on future agricultural support. To make accurate decisions with confidence, trustworthy data is crucial.

“We understand that for many of our members in rural areas, broadband connection remains a serious issue and will create major problems for farmers and growers when completing the online form. Last year only 18 percent of forms were completed online stressing how critical the paper application process is. Many of our members have to pay agents to do their online Single Application Forms and this decision will leave many farmers and growers incapable of making the census return. However, we understand that DAERA has taken this stance to ensure they are doing all they can to tackle COVID-19 as we progress through these difficult times,” concluded Mr Brown.

The deadline for the annual Agriculture and Horticulture Census online application is 30 June.