At a Charter of Rights Monitoring Committee meeting in Portlaoise today, IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy made it abundantly clear to Chairman Sean Brady and the Department of Agriculture that all payments due now must be paid on time and in line with the deadlines set down in the Charter.
Richard Kennedy warned that with the severe income crisis at farm level, payment delays will not be tolerated. He said all sectors of farming are under severe income pressure this year and direct payments were never more important.
Richard Kennedy said farmers are expecting to receive a full 70% advance payment on their BPS and Greening on Monday October 17th. He said IFA lobbied hard and secured a higher level of advance payment this year on the back of the farm income crisis. In addition, he said more farmers should be paid on the first day given the significant increase in the number of online applications and the pre-checking of files in June this year.
Richard Kennedy told the Charter Monitoring Committee that the Department service to farmers with queries and problems must meet the commitments in the Customer Charter, where calls are returned within 24 hours and problems identified and resolved quickly. He said the Department telephone service needs to improve as farmers are very frustrated when they are left waiting for someone to take their call and hear nothing back within a reasonable time period.
The IFA Deputy President said, given the range of farm schemes and the complexities involved, there will always be a significant number of queries and the Department must have an efficient and effective system in place to resolve problems and get payment out on these cases without undue delay.
Richard Kennedy said the new CAP Basic Payment System is now in place for over a year and problems like IT, digitisation, partnerships and entitlements cannot be used this year for any delays in payments. In addition, he said inspection cases cannot be allowed to hold up payments.
On GLAS, Richard Kennedy said an 85% advance payment must be paid to 38,000 farmers from the end of October, in line with the Charter commitments.
The IFA Deputy President welcomed the commencement of ANC payments on September 20th and noted that both farmer numbers and amounts paid to date were well up on 2015 levels.