IFA President Tim Cullinan said the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue cannot stand idly by while his officials railroad through changes which will mean up to a month’s delay in some farm payments.
The Department met with IFA and others last week to negotiate a new Farmers’ Charter, including payment dates. They proposed to significantly delay payments for 2023. These proposed delays were rejected by IFA. Despite this, the Department acted unilaterally and wrote to all farmers this week advising them of these new dates.
“The Charter process is based on mutual respect, but what we had last week was a sham. The officials at the meeting made no attempt to take on board the points made by the IFA delegation,” he said.
The IFA President said the workings of Charter meetings cannot be undermined by this approach and he said the Minister must intervene. ‘We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister to address the situation and avoid a potential collapse in negotiations,’ he said.
IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe, who led the IFA delegation, said an independent Chair to manage negotiations is needed.
“We fully appreciate the added complexity of the new CAP for all involved, but it cannot always be the farmer who loses out. Farm schemes are just too important,” he said.
IFA Rural Development Chair Michael Biggins said farmers, particularly those in the vulnerable sectors, simply cannot afford any delay in farm payments. It’s proposed the ANC, for example, would be pushed back to mid-October. It normally lands the week of the Ploughing every year. September is always an expensive month with children going back to school/college etc.
“It’s just not acceptable. The scheme is basically the same as it was in the old CAP. It seems it’s all to accommodate AMS and 100% inspection, when 5% was deemed satisfactory previously,” he said.
IFA Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden said direct payments make up over 100% of FFI on our vulnerable low income suckler and beef farms. These farms and the family income from these farms is based on the direct payments they receive and the timing of these payments is critical. Any changes to the long-established dates are in no way acceptable and must be revisited.