GLAS complaints the big issue for IFA service unit
Payment delay concerns have dominated the work of a new 'service' unit set up within the IFA to help resolve farmer issues with Department of Agriculture.
An average of 55 farmers each week have been contacting the unit since it was set up over four months ago.
A total of 773 complaints have been received since the unit, which is staffed by two full-time employees, was set up last September. Up to 475 have been resolved, while negotiations are continuing on the remainder.
Payment delays and other issues with the basic payment scheme have dominated, accounting for nearly 50pc of the complaints received.
GLAS payment complaints have proven the most difficult to resolve, with less than one in three farmer issues resolved to date. The environmental scheme accounted for the third highest number of complaints.
The establishment of the enhanced service was one of the pillars of action taken to regain the confidence and support of farmers following the crisis of 2015 which rocked the organisation.
"Given the importance of payments as a proportion of farmers' incomes, the payments unit is there to gather queries from individual farmers and liaise with the Department of Agriculture to sort out any problems and cut down on delays," explained IFA deputy president Richard Kennedy.
IFA rural development chair Joe Brady said the high proportion of outstanding cases relating to GLAS didn't come as a surprise and represented an indictment of the Department's system.