Speaking at a Charter of Rights meeting with the Department of Agriculture today, IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe said with over 129,000 farmers making a Basic Payment application, it’s essential that all farmers are paid on time in line with the Charter.
“The Department confirmed to IFA that all inspections and schemes are on schedule to deliver payments on time,” he said.
Brian Rushe said the Department must seek approval from the EU Commission for flexibility to make payments on inspection cases where they are not fully completed, similar to what was secured by IFA in 2020.
In previous years, it was very frustrating and unsatisfactory that many farmers who were selected for inspection incurred payment delays.
The Department confirmed that the TAMS costing review is ongoing and is due to be completed in the coming days.
Speaking at the meeting, IFA Rural Development Chairman Michael Biggins said materials such as steel and concrete have seen steep increases, up to 40% in some cases. “The review must be completed without any further delay and it must include all applications currently in the system where the work or purchase of equipment has not started,” he said.
“It would be unacceptable not to include all applicants because the impact of excluding them would mean they would get a lower rate of grant relative to investment costs incurred,” he said.
Delays in issuing approvals is forcing farmers to re-price jobs and they are finding big increases in quotations which is causing a huge amount of uncertainty. The percentage of approvals issued in Tranche 21 needs to be increased compared to previous Tranches and approvals must be issued without any further delay, the Rural Development Chairman said.
IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe again called on DAFM to clear the ongoing backlog of forestry licences. He said he is receiving regular calls from IFA members who want to capitalise on the current market situation but the current backlog is blocking them from the market.
Regarding the BEAM scheme, IFA Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden said, “The letters that issued to 1,000 farmers in the BEAM scheme referencing ‘Associated Herds’ has completely changed the goal posts for these farmers. This is unacceptable at this late stage in the scheme”.
Brendan Golden said that DAFM going back and readjusting the scheme figures for these farmers is a fundamental retrospective change to the Terms and Conditions signed up to by participant farmers.
IFA called for DAFM to allow farmers to ‘opt-in’ for these readjusted figures but they cannot enforce a compulsory change for all farmers affected.
Brian Rushe also called on the Department to continue with the procedures they adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic for applications to BPS in coming years.
“The procedures put in place have worked well and provided an opportunity to reach people in different ways than were previously available. DAFM’s approach has worked well during the pandemic and should remain an option on an ongoing basis,” he said.