Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 23 April 2018

Department handling of AEOS scheme branded 'an utter disgrace' by IFA

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

The Department of Agriculture's administration of the AEOS scheme has been blasted as "an utter disgrace" after new figures revealed that almost half of the farmers who applied to the scheme last year have not yet been approved.

Of the 8,388 farmers who applied, 4,000 are still under query, Department of Agriculture official Jack Nolan told the Teagasc Agri-Environment conference last Thursday.

The remaining 4,388 applications are classified as "paid or ready for payment", Mr Nolan said.

IFA rural development chairman Tom Turley described the AEOS scheme as a "total mess" due to the Department's administration.

BACKLOG

"Having less than half of the 2010 applicants passed or paid is an utter disgrace," he insisted.

The embarrassing backlog in AEOS 2010 processing has been highlighted by the fact that almost 60pc of this year's applications have already been passed for payment.

Of the 6,832 farmers who applied for AEOS this year, 4,058 have been passed for payment, of which 2,304 were subject to query and then cleared.

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Some 381 applications will be subject to further checks, while 89 farmers were refused admission to the scheme because they did not meet the criteria.

"AEOS 2 has been better. Some lessons were learned from the first scheme," Mr Nolan admitted.

"But staff are working at full steam and to their limit to get files cleared."

He added that extra staff had been moved into the AEOS unit from the Single Payment System unit in order to get payments flowing to farmers.

Mr Nolan said 2,171 of the 30,000 farmers awaiting payment for REPS this year need to complete the required five-hour or 10-hour training courses or submit their certification to show that their training had been completed.

Urged

"At an average payment of €6,000, that's €12m in payments that cannot be issued until farmers submit their training certs," he pointed out.

A further 3,4000 farmers have received a query from the Department of Agriculture and Mr Nolan urged those farmers to reply immediately.

"Replying to those letters in mid-December will not guarantee payment this year," he warned.

The IFA's Tom Turley called on the Minister for Agriculture to use manual payments and other resources to make sure money started flowing to farmers.

"Some farmers have borrowed money from friends and family in place of their AEOS money to pay bills, and that is completely unacceptable," he insisted.

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