The DAFM has issued annual sheep and goat census forms to over 48,000 keepers nationwide.
The sheep and goat censuses provide “valuable” statistical information to the DAFM and other stakeholders involved in the industry’s development.
In keeping with previous years, it has selected December 31st as the 2022 census date.
The DAFM will accept returns online and via post. Completed forms returned by post must arrive at the address printed on the envelope provided with the census form no later than January 31st, 2023, the DAFM stressed.
It is not permitted to submit forms by post through any office of the DAFM, a spokesperson urged.
Keepers should be aware that, in the case of dispute regarding postal returns, the only acceptable proof of postage is a registered post receipt.
Postal certificates or express post receipts are not acceptable as proof of postage.
However, it put a particular emphasis on encouraging keepers to return their census data online via AgFood.
An extended deadline of February 14th, 2023, applies to online returns only.
In encouraging the online submission of the annual sheep and goat census information, the spokesperson said it is “straightforward and provides real-time confirmation when census information has been submitted successfully”.
The benefits of using the online census facility include:
- An extended closing date for receipt of online census returns only;
- View census history;
- Peace of mind that 2022 census details have been submitted successfully;
- No additional inconvenience or costs associated with registering a postal return.
- Sheep keepers registered for online services can order books of sheep dispatch/movement documents online through the Animal Identification and Movements (AIM) system.
The spokesperson commented: “Online completion of the 2022 census will remain an option until end-November 2023.”
“Returns after that date must be submitted in paper form to the Department’s office in Backweston, Co. Kildare.”
“However, it should be stressed that 2022 census data submitted in paper form after January 31xt, 2022 or online after February 13th, 2022 will be considered to be late. Late submission of sheep and goat census information may have implications for eligibility for certain DAFM schemes.”
Keepers should be aware that completion and return of the census is a legal obligation.
Also, keepers are required to record their census data on their flock registers.
Failure to return a completed form on time could impact on eligibility for certain DAFM schemes.
For individual farmers, submission of a completed census is “central” in declaring that required stocking rates are being maintained and facilitates the drawing down of payments under farm schemes.
The DAFM listed these as the Sheep Improvement Scheme, Basic Payment Scheme, Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme, AEOS, GLAS etc.
Failure to return the census on time may also impact on other future related payments from this Department.
The DAFM further uses census information during farm/flock inspections where the inspector has details of the census returns the keeper has submitted for the holding in the last number of years.
The DAFM uses this information as the basis for identifying whether a keeper has adequately maintained animal records through the keeper flock register.
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