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Delayed AEOS aid ready to roll

Payments under the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) will commence in August, the Department of Agriculture has insisted.

Close to €8m is owed to around 9,200 AEOS participants for last year, with payments having been delayed since earlier this year due to comprehensive cross-checks by Department staff.

The payment delays sparked a furious reaction from farm organisations earlier in the spring but the Department confirmed that payments are now ready to roll.

AEOS payments for this year are due to start in October, with €35m to be paid to the 8,500 farmers in AEOS 1 and 6,800 in AEOS 2.

The Department's commitment follows calls by the IFA for the immediate payment of all outstanding AEOS and REPS monies.

IFA rural development chairman Tom Turley said €30m in REPS/AEOS payments was owed to around 10,000 farmers since last year. He said the delays were causing severe financial hardship on farms as compliance costs had already been incurred.

Mr Turley said that 1,000 REPS 4 farmers had received no payment yet for last year, while more than 2,000 REPS 4 farmers were still due their final 25pc of payment. In addition, a small number of REPS 3 farmers were still waiting to be paid.

Mr Turley said that the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, must ensure the payments were made immediately.

"The minister must ensure there is no carryover of payments in 2012," he said.

Indo Farming