Farm Ireland

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Farmers launch wave of protests over late payments

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Delays in the issuing of key environment scheme payments to thousands of farmers, has reached boiling point with a host of farm protests set to take place today and tomorrow.

Today, ICSA staged a protest at the Department of Agriculture, Johnstown Castle, Co Wexford to highlight the mounting anger among farmers over extended delays with payments for the GLAS environment scheme.

ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock said “ICSA has decided to take this stand to show solidarity with farmers who have been waiting patiently for payment and suffering the consequences of doing without. That patience has now run out.”

ICSA president Patrick Kent said it was acknowledged by the department that the delays are imposing hardship to those who have yet to receive payment and that they will do their utmost to clear the backlog as soon as possible.

"It was also confirmed to ICSA that a further 1,200 farmers will be paid today."

Meanwhile, IFA president Joe Healy will lead an IFA protest outside the Department of Agriculture, in Dublin tomorrow (Tuesday) on behalf of farmers who have yet to be paid long overdue GLAS Agri-Environment Scheme payments, which are due since October 2016. 

And, the national chairman of the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) Vincent Roddy has said "enough is enough" and that the association will start to host a number of protests from tomorrow.

“This comes in response to the fact that the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has failed to heed the warnings coming from the INHFA that action would be taken if the problems within his Department to issue GLAS payments to desperate farmers wasn't sorted out.

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"We've had enough of being treated as second class citizens and putting up with broken promises", continued Roddy, "from this Minister who gave assurances that farmers would be paid 85pc of their GLAS money before Christmas".

The INHFA believe that it's unacceptable that farmers should be penalised for the Departments obvious inability to sort out its own internal inefficiencies.

Roddy said "that if necessary, experts in IT systems must be outsourced to sort out this mess, farmers cannot wait any longer for their wages, what other sector in Irish society would put up with this." 

"We intend to keep our promise and are staging a number of protests to highlight this matter beginning on Tuesday, January 31 outside Davitt House, the Department's headquarters, Castlebar, Co. Mayo".

The protest will start at 12pm and run for the afternoon.

The 2016 GLAS payments underway since December 2016 represent the first full year payment schedule under the GLAS scheme. To date 27,400 of the 37,500 participants in the scheme have received 85% of their payment totalling almost €100 million.

In a recent statement Minister Creed said he is keen to provide clarity to the almost 10,000 farmers still awaiting payment at this stage. 

Furthermore, he said in order to ensure outstanding payments are issued without delay, all resources from an IT and administrative perspective are being directed towards resolving the outstanding issues.

The Minister says he understands and regrets the difficulty this uncertainty will cause for farmers involved and is being updated on a continuous basis by his officials on progress. 

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