IFA Deputy President Eddie Downey has said that the delay in the processing of approximately 200 Farm Improvement Scheme applications by the Department of Agriculture is causing severe financial hardship on farms as grant aid is being held up as a result.
Speaking following a meeting of the Charter of Farmers Rights in Portlaoise, Mr Downey said that it is unacceptable that the timescale for dealing with grant aid applications is not being honoured as agreed in the Charter and he called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to intervene to resolve the issue.
Farmers who were promised a 40% grant under the FIS are coming under increasing financial pressure from their lending institutions as the investment has already been made by the farmer on the basis that the grant aid would be paid within a specified time.
In relation to the TAMS Mr. Downey said that it was now important that the processing and approval to proceed with work under the Dairy Equipment and Sheep Handling + Fencing schemes commences immediately. Around 1,600 farmers have applied for these schemes and many of them are ready to commence with investment if they now get approval to proceed with work under these schemes.
On the suspension of the TAMS schemes, Mr. Downey said that it was vitally important that all schemes are reopened for application immediately. In the case of the Pigs + Poultry Welfare schemes, Minister Coveney must open these schemes as farmers have specific deadlines in order to complete work to meet the stringent EU standards.
At the Charter meeting, the IFA Deputy President clearly pointed out that outstanding REPS 4 payments and AEOS 1 payments are paid out immediately. It is vital that the full allocation available for REPS/AEOS of €337m is fully paid out this year.