Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 December 2017

In brief: ICMSA seeks SFP progress

Delays in the delivery of direct payments had caused serious financial hardship for thousands of farmers, the ICMSA has claimed.

Although, €1.05bn has been paid out to more than 118,600 farmers under the Single Farm Payment (SFP), full payments have been delayed to over 20,000 applicants due to delays in digitising land parcel maps.

More than €200m has still to be paid out under the SFP, with up to €25m in Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS) payments held up.

ICMSA deputy president John Comer said many farmers who had payments delayed were experiencing cash-flow and debt repayment pressures as a consequence and could not be expected to wait any longer for their money.

"It is absolutely essential that all mapping and other issues are resolved immediately so that all farmers can receive their outstanding SFP and DAS payments without any further delay," Mr Comer said.

"It is quite clear that farmers throughout the country are being placed under unbearable pressures to meet repayment and loan schedules by their banks, which do not seem to care that the farmers themselves are still waiting for their payments," he added.

"Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith may describe the payments performance over the past two months as 'extraordinary' if he likes.

"But many farmers who are still awaiting payment and who have received only a fraction of what they were expecting would certainly not agree with him."

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All lambs to be tagged?

The requirement to electronically tag sheep will be extended to include lambs destined for factory slaughter, ICSA sheep chairman Mervyn Sunderland has predicted.

Mr Sunderland said that the Department of Agriculture was under pressure from meat factories to make the move, as it would improve efficiencies in slaughter plants.

"I suspect that the derogation allowing lambs for slaughter to be tagged with a conventional tag will be swept aside by the demand for efficiencies in factories. The key challenge will be to ensure that the cost of electronic tagging of all lambs will be driven down by economies of scale," Mr Sunderland said.

"Unless electronic tagging costs are similar to conventional tags, it won't be acceptable to farmers," he warned.

Irish Independent