One month ago, the EU Commission published the legislation to implement its three-year superlevy payment scheme. Today, farmers remain unable to access the scheme, and they have been venting their legitimate rising frustration, IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary said this week.
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must liaise immediately with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and provide a fast-track option over the coming days to allow farmers benefit from the scheme without delay. Mr O’Leary added that co-ops must come up with a mechanism to ensure superlevy deductions in excess of one-third of the overall bill are ceased and refunded promptly as intended in the scheme, especially for farmers who have been without a milk cheque for some months.
“Farmers in superlevy situation are frustrated and angry at being unable to benefit from the scheme. This is without a doubt the most burning issue for dairy farmers right now, judging from the number of calls we have been receiving in recent days,” Mr O’Leary said.
“I have written to Minister Coveney to make him aware that many farmers in superlevy situations have not received any milk cheque since last autumn. Many of the farmers who have called me argue that the Minister’s enthusiastic pronouncements on the potential for dairy expansion sound very hollow while he fails to address this problem,” he said.
“The Minister must ensure with immediate effect that superlevy payment terms are clarified, and the full benefit of the interest free three-year scheme is made available to over-quota farmers without any further delay. It is just not good enough to suggest that farmers might have to wait till June to apply,” Mr O’Leary said.
“Co-ops also have a crucial part to play in helping farmers deal with the current cash flow stress. I have written to them to ask them to ensure that farmers can benefit from the scheme straight away as intended, with no further deductions where farmers have already paid 1/3 of their overall bill, and a refund of all deductions in excess of that figure,” he added.
“I have also urged co-ops to make sure, now that they have legal certainty on the fact that the liability cannot transfer from the farmer to them, that no unreasonable use of the situation would be made to obtain supply commitments from farmers whose right to move to another co-op if they so wish must remain unimpeded by the scheme,” he concluded.