IFA President Tim Cullinan said the offer by the EU Commission to allow member states to extend the application deadline for Basic Payment Scheme by one month cannot result in any delay in payments.
“The October 16th payment date is far more important for farmers than the application deadline. If the application date is extended, the Minister and the Department must guarantee that the payment deadlines of October 16th will be met.”
On inspections, the President said, “In the circumstances we are in, we should be asking the EU to review inspections. The total focus must be on getting every farmer paid on time”.
Any inspections at this time must only be done with the agreement of farmers under strict guidelines.
“IFA is happy to support a deadline extension to June 15th, but processing has to take place to ensure all payments are made on time in mid-October,” he said.
The May 15th application date is less than two months away. Some 15,000 applications have already been made. As 80% of farmer applications are made together with a Teagasc advisor or agent, the ongoing social distancing protocols may create some difficulties.
“Information clinics that are normally organised by the Dept will not be going ahead, nor will the meetings to discuss the extension of the new LPIS arrangements to more counties. Farmers cannot be left in limbo. If there is a difficulty, applications and payments have to be made and problems can be rectified afterwards,” he said.
Tim Cullinan said given the severity of the current situation IFA is proposing that the Government seek flexibility at EU level to provide 100% of payments under the Basic Payment Scheme to be made in mid-October.
“This is an unprecedented situation for the country and there is a need for an injection of funds into the sector. CAP can be used as a catalyst to get cash flowing in the farming and the wider economy,” he said.