London, UK - 12 Mar 2009: IBM (NYSE:IBM) has made further enhancements to Defra’s Whole Farm Approach website, designed to reduce the time farmers spend filling in forms, improve the accuracy of returns and provide easy access to industry best practices.
The latest update is a new online Cross Compliance Self Assessment Tool which will help farmers satisfy the conditions of EU farming grants. It takes them step-by-step through the process to qualify for subsidies and gives them assurance that they will meet the requirements of future inspections.
The extendable design of the web site has allowed a series of tools and services to be delivered quickly. Farmers can get help and advice on a range of best-practices, for example, how best to prepare for a site inspection, good land management practices, business benchmarking, license applications, regulatory self-assessment and an online method for completing the Agricultural and Horticultural survey.
Launched in March 2006, use of the portal’s services has grown significantly in part due to the ease with which it can be used For example, there was a six-fold increase in the number of farmers using the web site to complete the June Agricultural Survey between 2007 and 2008.
Already further on-line services are planned for introduction in 2009:
- An electronic Single Payment Scheme (SPS) Trial will be piloted with the Rural Payments Agency using a sample of farmers, many of which are registered WFA users. The system will allow farmers to apply for their annual payment subsidy online.
- The Agricultural Survey will again be available for completion. Run in June and December, the survey is completed by a sample of farmers about aspects of their farming practice.
- An improved version of the BCMS Cattle Tracing System (CTS), which monitors cattle movements, will be available through WFA.
- Farmers’ agents and representatives will be able to access and complete forms on farmers’ and growers’ behalf.
As the Strategic Technology Partner to Defra, IBM provided consulting in the planning phase through to the programme’s IT implementation.
“With its emphasis on the customer, WFA is a great example of Defra taking the government’s service transformation message and putting it into action” said Mark Collins, IBM. “We’ve been able to provide a highly valuable solution that will help Defra achieve its policy goals in providing better value to farmers and at the same time improve the quality of the data collected for analysis and decision-making”.
IBM worked with business partner EzGov Europe, a specialist in delivering online services for government customers.
“The WFA web site has been designed with and for the farming community and has resulted in a portal that is both intuitive and quick to use. Farmers not only save time, they can also stay informed about new legislation and changes to regulatory requirements,” said Frank Moyer, CEO of EzGov Europe.
Information about becoming a registered WFA user can be found at: www.wholefarm.defra.gov.uk or by contacting the WFA team on 0845 933 5577.
Notes to editors
The Whole Farm Approach is designed to ease the regulatory burden on farmers and growers in England. More information on the Whole Farm Approach can be found at: www.wholefarm.defra.gov.uk
For more information about IBM in the UK public sector, visit: ibm.com/easyaccess/publicsector
About EzGov Europe
EzGov Europe builds and manages complex transformational government web solutions for public service organisations. For more information, visit: www.ezgoveurope.com
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