Farmers will be hundreds of millions out of pocket when the Rural Development Programme (RDP) finishes up in 2020, Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív has claimed.
As pressure mounts on Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, to increase funding under GLAS, opposition TDs fear financial promises to farmers on other RDP schemes - including TAMS and the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) - are also not being realised.
According to the Government's '2016 Summary of Rural Development Programme,' total funding €2.19bn has been allocated to RDP over the programme's seven-year lifespan from 2014-2020. However, this figure does not include substantial EU funding.
Éamon Ó Cuív, Fianna Fáil spokesperson for the arts, heritage and regional and rural affairs says the Government's RDP underspend is "manifesting" year on year.
"It looks like the RDP underspend for 2016 is going to be between €50m-€60m at a minimum. The best case scenario is an underspend of at least €50m," he said.
"Between TAMS, GLAS and the Beef Data and Genomics Programme the Minister is going to underspend by 20pc," he told the Farming Independent.
With applications for the third tranche of GLAS over-subscribed by an estimated 2,000, Deputy Ó Cuív said Minister Creed needed to take "drastic action" to ensure that all allocated funding for agri-schemes were paid to farmers.
Last November, figures released by Fianna Fáil revealed that just 52pc of 2016's RDP budget allocation had been paid out. Based on average payments to date, Fianna Fáil estimatethat the GLAS scheme alone is on track to leave farmers at a loss of some €378m by the end of 2020.
Deputy Ó Cuív claimed the underspend was staying in the Exchequer. "I believe it all winds up to be an Exchequer saving, we will get all of the European money we were promised but ultimately the underspend by the Government ends up as a total saving to the Exchequer."
A Department spokes person said it is "fully committed to spending the full amount over the lifetime of the RDP programme.
"In relation to TAMS, this is a demand led, on-farm investment scheme. The Department can only make payments when work is done and a valid payment claim is submitted by applicant. The Department issued 5,500 approvals in the past year or so but less than 600 payment claims have been submitted so far.
"GLAS now has reached it's target of over 50,000 applicants. The latest batch of participants will have five-year contracts starting from January 2017.
"BDGP payments in respect of 2016 scheme year have commenced to those herds that are in compliance with requirements of the scheme."