Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 4 December 2016

Opinion: Late farm payments still aren't acceptable

Published 26/10/2016 | 06:30

About 10pc of farmers are waiting for their money to arrive. Photo credit: Julien Behal/PA Wire
About 10pc of farmers are waiting for their money to arrive. Photo credit: Julien Behal/PA Wire

The biggest payment date of the year for most farms is right around now. The EU's Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) pumps close to €1.2bn into Irish farmers bank accounts every year.

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The reality for most is that it doesn't stay there for long. Most creditors to farmers line up to settle accounts around this time because they know it's as good a time as any to strike.

Having a BPS due is one thing, but getting it into the account can be another ordeal altogether.

It's noticeable how quiet the farm organisations are about the delays in payments this year - obviously they are well ahead of other years, and of course the Department of Agriculture are always at pains to point out how much more timely they are at getting the money out than other EU member states.

But there are still about 10pc of farmers out there waiting for their money to arrive. For some there's a good reason - something didn't add up within the myriad of boxes to be ticked and tallied within the application process.

Within this group, there are farmers wondering why the Department inspectors decided to wait for 51 weeks before making a call that potentially holds up an entire year's payment.

That's the reality here - on most drystock farms, and certainly many more tillage farms this year, the Basic Payment represents the only income that a farmer will have to show for their efforts for the year.

If there was a State payment that was weeks or months late for 10pc of pensioners or child allowance recipients, you can be pretty sure that it would be dominating every news programme and page going.

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The Department might be one of the better boys in the class, but that doesn't mean that it should be allowed rest on it's state-sponsored laurels while over 10,000 farmers wait on a payment that every bill and household expense is hanging on.

Indo Farming