Farm Ireland

Saturday 17 March 2018

Farmers at boiling point over late payments

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Significant numbers of farmers continue to wait on payments under Department of Agriculture agri-environment schemes as criticism of its performance mounts.

Latest figures released by Minister of State at the Department, Andrew Doyle, shows that to date, AEOS payments for 2016 amounting to over €21m have issued. He said the remaining 2,000 cases are currently being checked and payments will continue to issue on an ongoing weekly basis as these cases are cleared.

Meanwhile in GLAS, there are approximately 5,900 cases awaiting payment.

At the end of December 2016, there were approximately 37,500 active participants in GLAS, of whom 27,400 received payments valued at over €97m.

This represented 85pc of their 2016 payments. Payment can only issue where all the required validation checks have been successfully passed.

The Minister said as issues with outstanding GLAS cases are resolved, they are being paid in weekly payment runs.

Further payments are issuing on a weekly basis, he said  with payments valued at over €110m now issued and over 84% of participants now paid.

Responding to criticism of the Departments performance in this area, he said “it is not that simple a matter to deal with”.

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“I wish it was because I know plenty of people who are waiting for their money. However, they can be reassured that everything is being done. I am constantly in touch with people who are upstairs.

“An entire office is dedicated to this issue and is going through it, he said.

However, Fianna Fáil Agriculture and Food Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue has criticised Minister Creed for the continual delays in 2016 payments to farmers under the agri-environmental schemes GLAS and AEOS.

“While the Minister has been on a Gulf region trade mission this week, the hot temperatures there fail to compare to the boiling anger of farmers who have been waiting nearly five months now for 2016 payments. The excuses are wearing thin.

"This is a wilful neglect of farmers up and down the country who desperately rely on these payments to keep their head above water.

“Every day, my colleagues and I, receive calls from frustrated farmers, wondering when they will get their payments. Many of them are under serious financial strain, urgently needing these payments to ensure that the bills are paid.

“Ongoing delays are a clear breach of the Farmers Charter Payment agreed between the Department and farming organisations. Under this, it was agreed that up to 75pc of GLAS payments would commence in the third week of October, with the balancing payment being made by mid-December.

“It is simply unacceptable that 6,235 GLAS and 2,065 AEOS payments have yet to be made to farmers. These farmers applied on time to these schemes.

“The Government have simply failed to respond with urgency and efficiency to their applications.

“I’m calling on the Minister to immediately address Oireachtas Agricultural committee members on the excessive delays and to expedite these payments,” McConalogue said.

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