Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 March 2018

Angry farmers protest over payments delays

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

MORE than 300 angry farmers gathered at the Department of Agriculture offices in Johnstown Castle yesterday morning to protest against delays in Disadvantaged Area Scheme payments.

Some 25,000 farmers have still not received Disadvantaged Area Scheme payments due to delays in digitisation of maps and other issues.

The protesting farmers (right) said that they would not tolerate a repeat of last year's payments debacle and demanded an urgent response from the Department.

IFA president John Bryan said the "administrative mess" around AEOS was spilling over and causing delays with Disadvantaged Areas payments, and threatening the SFP advance, due on October 17.

"It is totally unacceptable that digitisation for AEOS has clogged up the system and is causing delays, particularly as farmers applied for this scheme as far back as May 2010," he said.

On Friday, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney claimed that direct payments would be much quicker this year and said that Irish farmers would receive their payments well before many of their EU counterparts.

"Ireland pays its Least Favoured Areas (LFAs) and Single Farm Payments (SFPs) earlier than most member states and the 2011 payment situation is well in advance of this time in 2010," he said.

"Some €169m has been paid in LFAs to 78,000 farmers. This is €45m ahead of the 2010 position."

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The minister pledged that at least 94,000 farmers would be paid €444m in Single Farm Payments next week, which would be €46m more than was paid at the same time last year.

However ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin called on Mr Coveney to face up to problems regarding timely Single Farm Payments and Disadvantaged Area payments.

"Many farmers are getting frustrated again because they still haven't received the Disadvantaged Area Payment.

"The reality is that 25pc of the total amount of LFA money still hasn't been issued, and it looks like there will be a significant problem with the SFP as well," he claimed.

"The minister has admitted that there will be a problem with up to 30,000 farmers being paid on time. This is simply not good enough," he warned.

"The fact is that digitisation was a problem last year, and it is still a problem this year," said Mr Gilmartin.

"The minister needs to sort out the ongoing problem with digitisation of maps."

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