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Anger over Department demanding BPS repayments from farmers

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ICMSA's Patrick Rohan

ICMSA's Patrick Rohan

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The Department has come under fire after sending repeated letters to farmers seeking repayment of monies overpaid following basic payment scheme reviews.

A number of farmers have received more than one letter seeking the return of sums of money mistakenly paid years before the current BPS review.

"The Department should deduct the overpayment where the farmers accepts the over claim from the farmers' next payment and no interest should be charged," said the ICMSA's Pat McCormack.

"The Department made the error and the farmer should not be burdened with interest payments as a result."

Farmers attending the IOFGA AGM complained they are still waiting for organics payments.

The Department stressed that a surge in farmers joining the organics scheme had meant a new online platform was designed. Almost 1,800 joined the scheme, with over 360 awaiting payment.

The environmental scheme GLAS has also encountered payment difficulties, with 94pc of over 34,500 paid, leaving 1,100 cases to be reviewed. The Department said there were just over 1,000 applications that they were awaiting further information from.

Meanwhile, some farmers are awaiting significant payments under the TAMS scheme. There have been 1,394 claims received, with 898 cases paid amounting to €10.9m.

A spokesman said there were a small number of cases being processed and the computer system had to be rectified to help it cope with small issues such as over-claims. "We are hopeful of resolving these outstanding cases soon," he said.

The ICMSA's Patrick Rohan said some farmers had taken out significant "bridging finance" and were very concerned.

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