IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy led an IFA delegation to meet senior officials in the Department of Agriculture in Portlaoise last week on the 2017 Basic Payment application and associated issues covering inspections, processing and payments.
Richard Kennedy said the application process for the 2017 scheme is now open and he encouraged farmers to apply as soon as possible, and well before the closing date of May 15th 2017.
He said, “IFA strongly encourages farmers to apply online as this speeds up processing and payments, and reduces errors. In addition, online applicants have the benefit of the pre-checking facility which is a major help.”
Richard Kennedy also pointed out that the BPS scheme application covers the ANC application and is essential for all other schemes.
Last year, out of a total of about 124,312 eligible applications, 102,020 farmers applied online. This year it is hoped to increase that figure by another 10,000 to 15,000 applicants. By 2018 online application will be compulsorily for all applicants.
Out of the total of 124,312 eligible applicants in 2016, 99.4% or 123,604 farmers have been paid €1.182b under the basic payment scheme and greening. Outstanding cases, as they continue to be resolved, are paid through twice weekly payment runs.
Richard Kennedy said IFA made it very clear to the Department of Agriculture that all payments must be made on time and in line with the deadlines set down in the Charter of Farmers Rights. He said payment delays as a result of Department inspections are not acceptable and this was a particularly problem with satellite inspections last year. He added farmers must be accurately informed if there is a problem or delay with their case so as issues can be resolved and payment delays avoided.
Information and assistance for BPS applications
IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady said the Department informed IFA they will undertake a series of information and assistance clinics for farmers on the BPS application during the month of April.
A permanent clinic will be available at the Department’s main office in Portlaoise to assist farmers with the BPS application. From April 10th, an 8 day clinic will be held at the Department’s offices in Cavan and Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim. In addition, the Department will organise clinics in Tralee, Letterkenny, Tuam, Ballina, Ennis, Macroom and Dungarvan in the week commencing April 24th.
On a separate issue, in respect of the Knowledge Transfer (KT) Programme, IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods raised the concerns of farmers who are required to provide net margin financial data as part of the Profit Monitor.
The Department confirmed to IFA that this will no longer be a requirement and data on gross output, variable costs and gross margin will suffice. In addition, it was confirmed that the herd health plan for KT will be on line in the next two weeks.