At a meeting with the Department of Agriculture, IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe called for the maximum pay out of this year’s farm schemes.
He said that given the difficulties that can arise around online applications and the postponement of clinics, every effort must be made to issue all payments that are due.
“The Dept must pull out all the stops and make a strong case to the EU Commission to pay farmers, whose files are selected for inspection, their advance payment on October 18th,” he said.
This was delivered in 2020 following intense lobbying by IFA and it’s unacceptable that it doesn’t apply for 2021 and beyond. This is very important as payments have been held up in the past because the inspection had not taken place or hadn’t gone through the administrative process.
In relation to the LPIS review, Brian Rushe stressed that where digitising is required, it cannot hold up payments. IFA will not tolerate the delays which were caused by the LPIS review in the past.
IFA Rural Development Chairman Michael Biggins welcomed the commencement of ANC payments which is in line with previous years. 85% payment has been issued to 85,000 farmers whose land area has been cleared and have met the minimum stocking.
The Department confirmed that there will be twice weekly payment runs to pay ANC payments to farmers as they meet the required stocking rates. The remaining 15% payment will be issued in early December. Up to 100,000 will qualify for ANC payments in 2021 worth up to €250m.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman reiterated to the Department the need to pay as many farmers as possible when the advance BPS payment is due from Oct 18th. The balancing 30% payment will be made on Dec 1st.
Beef schemes payments under BEEP-S and BDGP will commence in December. IFA Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden said the viability of suckler farms is heavily reliant on meaningful support payments and this money must be paid on time.
He also highlighted the ongoing issues farmers are experiencing with the online application process where applications are not being picked up by the Department. There are farmers who are carrying out the measures of the schemes on the understanding they are participating in the scheme only to be told that they never applied. The online application process must be revisited for all schemes.
IFA Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy welcomed the Department’s intention to provide 2017 as the new reference year for the Sheep Welfare Scheme, with flexibilities, and 2019 as the reference year for new entrants to the original scheme.
“It’s important this is finalised in the coming weeks and farmers are informed of their new scheme numbers. The advance SWS payments will issue in mid-November. The payment is vital for the sector which heavily depends on direct payments,” he said.
Concluding Brian Rushe pointed out that for many farmers, direct payments represent more than 100% of income. Any delay in payments has financial repercussions for farmers.
“IFA urged the Department to put alternative arrangements in place for farmers who normally attend the very important clinics at the Department of Agriculture Stand at the Ploughing, which didn’t take place due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Department committed to putting in more resources through a dedicated telephone service with extended hours to help farmers who have any queries on their payment status,” he said.
Brian Rushe said it was important that any pre-payment queries can be addressed as many issues can be resolved over the phone.