Farm Ireland

Thursday 23 November 2017

Battle to secure 70pc SFP advance stalls in Brussels

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Efforts by Ireland to get a 70pc advance in the Single Farm Payment (SFP) for more than 100,000 farmers appear to have hit serious obstacles in Brussels.

The application will go before the Commission's management committee tomorrow morning for approval.

However, Commission sources expressed the view that while a 50pc advance would get a favourable hearing, a 70pc advance could prove problematic.

A Department of Agriculture staff member accepted that "some concerns had been raised" in relation to the 70pc advance.

It is understood that the regulation on possible advances of direct payments specifically limits the amount to 50pc of the overall payout.

Commission officials also said a 70pc advance could cause "liquidity problems" for them given that eight member states are seeking early payment of the SFP.

Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Lithuania and Hungary have all applied for SFP advances.

In addition, the Commission is believed to be fearful of causing a precedent if they agreed to a 70pc advance.

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However, Brussels sources were confident that the green light would be given for a 50pc advance of the SFP.

A 70pc advance would mean that more than €900m would be paid out to Irish farmers in mid-October. A 50pc advance would deliver around €650m. The balancing payments would be delivered in mid-December.

Ireland has cited the "exceptional problems" caused by the poor weather this summer and additional costs being carried by farmers for seeking the 70pc advance of the SFP.

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