'Department will come up with any old excuse to avoid paying farmers on time'
My week: Seanie Boyle
The Department of Agriculture's handling of their various agriculture schemes leaves a lot to be desired, according to sheep farmer Seanie Boyle, who claims officials will come up with "any old excuse" to avoid paying farmers on time.
At the moment Seanie is waiting for his GLAS payment which was due last December, and like the other 5,000 GLAS farmers is wondering why the Department seems to be incapable of meeting a payment deadline.
"I was due my payment in December, but so far there has been no sign of the money.
"I have done everything on my side of the bargain, including paying for a planner to design the GLAS management scheme, but although I am tipping along well, you need to have this money in case something unusual comes along," the former Donegal county footballer explains.
Seanie has been running the 35ac home farm in Falcarragh with some 120ac of additional commonage since his father, John, and uncle, Paddy, passed away in the early 1990s. He is currently in expansion mode at his lowland and upland sheep enterprise in the north Donegal Gaeltacht region.
Part of his lowland farm is also designated under the special amenity protection legislation as a corncrake habitat which sterilises a section production-wise from April until August every year.
The only part of his farm which seems to be 'bureaucracy free' is the 13ac of forestry, which has to be a relief for the Donegal man who says he sometimes feels he is "either farming for the Department of Agriculture or the environment".
"I can't see why the Department cannot pay GLAS on time and why there cannot be more flexibility with the corncrake and hen harrier protection schemes. I am all for taking care of these birds, but a full and proper management plan for the scheme has to be developed. At the moment, you can't even put up a farm shed on the corncrake land without permission," he adds.