National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary has called on Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to fast track the implementation of the three-year superlevy payment scheme.
He said while the notice published last week by the Department of Agriculture had clarified the fact that the liability could not pass from the over-quota farmer to the co-op and therefore could transfer with the farmer for collection by a new co-op, it had not done enough to ensure farmers who needed it could avail of the scheme promptly. He urged the Minister to provide for a fast-track procedure allowing co-ops to immediately stop collecting levies or reimburse farmers as relevant.
“Following EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan’s announcement of the scheme, and the commitment by the Irish Government to make it available to over-quota Irish farmers, there would have been an understanding among farmers that they would not need to pay any more than one-third of their total bill this year,” Mr O’Leary said.
“Yet, some farmers have faced significant superlevy deductions in advance of the end of the quota year, and some of those may not have received any payment for their milk in several months. This is putting an intolerable pressure on their cash flow. There is a real urgency in implementing the 3-year superlevy payment scheme which I am concerned the Minister does not fully appreciate,” he said.
“It is crucial that co-ops cease immediately to collect levies from those who have already paid 1/3 of their total bill, and even reimburse those who have paid more than 1/3. To facilitate this as promptly as possible, the Minister must provide a fast-track method to allow farmers who intend to utilise the scheme to identify themselves immediately while the finer legalities of the scheme and the Statutory Instrument needed to run it are finalised,” he concluded.