IFA National Hill Chair Caillin Conneely has called on Minister McConalogue to intervene and do whatever is needed to ensure all ACRES Co-Operation (CP) farmers receive their payment before Christmas.
“We’ve always been told by the Department, even last week, that ACRES payments would land at the end of November. Now at the thirteenth hour, we’ve been pulled into a meeting and told that the best ACRES CP farmers can hope for is for payments to land from February 2024 at the earliest. It’s completely unacceptable,” he said.
“Nothing has changed with ACRES, so the Department should have been ready for it. They have cocked up here and they need to sort it out quickly. We’re only weeks to Christmas and the bills that need to be paid are mounting up. There are thousands of farm families depending on this,” he said.
‘As a hill farmer, we were sold a pup with ACRES, but this rubs salt into the wound. Firstly, we were told that we wouldn’t get our non-core payment until next year, and now we’re told we won’t get any payment at all until next year. It’s ridiculous and its going to have a big financial impact on many farm families,” he said.
‘All we heard today was the huge ambition within the Department for ACRES, the complexity of the scheme and need to preserve payment integrity. That’s all well and good, but it’s of no value to farm families waiting on their payment. It’s a complete failure on the side of the Department. And it doesn’t have to be. It’s within the remit of the terms and conditions of ACRES that the Minister can alter scheme operations from time to time. That time is now, and he needs to sort this out quickly. His officials weren’t interested in any compromise that would deliver payments to CP farmers in the short-term,” he said.”
IFA Rural Development Chair Michael Biggins said ‘This will impact thousands, even outside ACRES CP. Any uncleared BISS/CRISS applicant or even ACRES General applicants who are reliant on scorecards could potentially not receive payment until 2024. It’s completely unacceptable, and worse of all, no one knows where they stand. They need to get real, make direct contact with farmers to let them know where they stand and sort out this mess”.
“No more than the delay in ANC payments, farmers will have their businesses structured around receiving these payments on the dates they get them every year. Delaying them will affect bank repayments and cashflow to meet other bills,” he said.
Payment for ACRES General applicants is due to commence from December 18th.