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Extra staff in as payments deadline looms

The Department of Agriculture drafted in 18 extra staff last week to help speed up the processing of Disadvantaged Area (DA) payments.

It is believed that the extra staff were secured by outsourcing work to a Dundalk-based firm.

However, it remains to be seen if the extra staff can make enough of a difference to get all farmers paid by the end of the year. At the current rate of 3,000 cases per week, not all farmers will be cleared within this calendar year.

Around 40,000 farmers have their farms fully digitised and received the full 75pc of their payment at this stage, while a further 35,000 farmers have received part of the 75pc, based upon the digitised area.

Compared to the same time last year, Disadvantaged Area payments are running behind by 4,000 farmers.

Farmers who have received a letter outlining a slight reduction in their area are being asked either to accept or appeal the reduction by the Department of Agriculture.


Farm organisations are now advising farmers to accept any cuts at this stage, on the basis that they will be able to claw back any deductions at a later stage after all the payments have been made.

Payments to around 10,000 farmers in Disadvantaged Areas are being held up due to not having the minimum stocking density of 0.15 of a livestock unit per hectare for three consecutive months.

These farmers will be written to, and the IFA is advising that they respond without delay, said Mr Turley.

A number of farmers also have problems with dual claims, over-claims and other eligibility conditions, which they should respond to immediately, he added.

The 75pc tranche of REPS 4 payments is due to be made to 30,000 farmers around the end of October or early November, but the remaining 25pc will depend on the Government's estimates. The 25pc could be paid before the end of the year if a supplementary estimate was secured, but, otherwise, it will be carried forward to early next year.

Meanwhile, letters relating to dual claims on forestry land, which were sent out in error last week, have been cleared by the Department of Agriculture.

The incident led to thousands of queries from anxious farmers.

Irish Independent