At a meeting with the Department of Agriculture today, IFA called for the maximum payout of this year’s farm schemes given the difficulties arising from COVID-19 restrictions.
IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe, who led the IFA delegation, said that given the restrictions in place at the time of application; the postponement of clinics; and remote working in the Department of Agriculture, every effort must be made to issue all payments that are due.
“IFA urged the Department to put in place alternative arrangements for farmers who normally attend the very important clinics at the Department of Agriculture Stand at the Ploughing Championships, which isn’t taking place due to the 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. IFA is asking farmers who have a query from the Department to respond immediately. Otherwise, their payment will be held up.
IFA Rural Development Chairman Michael Biggins welcomed the commitment by the Department to being ANC payments on Sept 16th, which is in line with previous years. 85% payment will be issued to all farmers whose land area has been cleared and who have met the minimum stocking. The remaining 15% payment will be issued in early December. Up to 100,000 will qualify for ANC payments in 2020 worth up to €250m.
IFA impressed on the Department the need to pay out as many farmers as possible when the BPS is due from 16th Oct. The balancing 30% payment will be made on Dec 1st.
The Department also confirmed to IFA that where there are files selected for inspection, these cases will be paid the 70% advance payment. This is an important development as payments have been held up in the past as the inspection had not taken place or hadn’t gone through the administrative process.
In relation to the LPIS review in counties Monaghan, Meath, Cavan, Longford and Leitrim, Brian Rushe stressed that where digitising is required, it cannot hold up payments. IFA will not tolerate the delays which occurred in county Louth last year where some farmers had to wait until early in 2020 to get paid.
In relation to other Livestock schemes, IFA Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden said that vital supports to the drystock sector must be paid on time. Such schemes as the BDGP, BEEP and the Sheep Welfare Scheme are an important income support for sectors where cash flow is very difficult. Payments under these schemes will commence in November.
Concluding Brian Rushe pointed out that direct payments are worth up to €1.8bn to farmers. For many sectors such as livestock, tillage and hill sheep, the direct payments represent more than 100% of income. Any delay in payments has financial repercussions for farmers.
ANC – 85% – from Sept 14th – 15% balance early Dec.
BPS – 70% – from 16th Oct – 30% balance 1st Dec.
Sheep Welfare – 85% – Nov – 15% Balance May 2021
BDGP – 85% – November – 15% Balance early 2021.
BEEP – November/December
GLAS – 85% advance -early November – 15% balance May 2021.