Farm Ireland

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Department under pressure as late payments 'breach' Charter

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Michael Creed. Picture: Arthur Carron
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Michael Creed. Picture: Arthur Carron
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

The manner in which the Department of Agriculture has dealt with farmers awaiting direct payments was "not acceptable" and contravened the Farmers Charter of Rights, the INHFA has claimed.

The farmer body said there was mounting frustration among the thousands of hill and lowland farmers who were waiting on monies from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC).

These complaints were echoed by Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice, who said he had been inundated with complaints from farmers regarding delays in direct payments.

Although €786m has been paid to 119,500 farmers under the BPS, and a further €186m to 86,200 ANC applicants, some 7,000 farmers have yet to receive their Basic Payment, and around 10,000 applicants are waiting on ANC monies.

In reply to questions from the Farming Independent the Department stated that payment delays generally related to entitlements issues, land errors such as over-claims/dual claims, commonage errors, and inspection outcomes.

The INHFA claimed mapping issues were delaying payments to around 4,000 farmers, with many of these cases relating to satellite inspections.

Vincent Roddy of the INHFA called on the Department to explain why satellite inspections which are delaying payments for thousands of farmers could not have completed earlier in the year.

He pointed out that under the Farmers Charter of Rights rules, farmers with mapping anomalies were to be notified of any problems by mid-September.

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"Very often the amount of money involved is quite small, in some cases less than €100, but it still holds up all of the farmer's payments," Roddy said.

"Often we see farmers accepting reductions to their mapped area rather than delay their Basic Payment and ANC payments which often could be in excess of €10,000," he added.

Michael Fitzmaurice,Independent deputy for Roscommon-East Galway. Pic Tom Burke
Michael Fitzmaurice,Independent deputy for Roscommon-East Galway. Pic Tom Burke

The INHFA has also called for payments to be made to farmers on "any land area not in question".

"This would result in the issuing of most of the money presently owed to farmers," Roddy said.

Meanwhile, Roscommon-Galway TD, Michael Fitzmaurice, has called for greater clarity on the 'Yellow Card' system introduced by Brussels, which he claimed was further delaying payments.

He claimed there was confusion on how the 'Yellow Card' system fitted in with existing procedures and this had resulted in further delays in the processing of ANC payments, and on the Basic Payments for affected applicants.

The Department confirmed that it had received verbal clearance from the EU Commission in relation to the processing of the ANC yellow card cases. However, it maintained that it had not yet received official written confirmation of this.

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