Farm Ireland

Saturday 18 November 2017

Payment lift-off on 66pc of satellite inspections

But close on 8,000 farmers face further delays on GLAS scheme

This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite on May 08, 2017
This natural-color satellite image was collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite on May 08, 2017
(European Space Agency/PA)
ICMSA's Pat McCormack
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Over 6,500 remote satellite inspections have been carried out so far this year on area-based schemes as the Agriculture Department prepares to issue 70pc of Basic Payment Scheme funding.

Around 66pc of the 6,500 inspections have been processed, with 80pc of those cleared for payment, the latest Farmers' Charter meeting heard.

The remainder are expected to be processed in the next few weeks.

"The responsibility is totally on the Department to ensure that these outstanding inspection cases are processed without delay - the fact that a farmer was selected for inspection should not hold up his or her payment," said the ICMSA's Pat McCormack. Over 13,000 query letters have been issued to farmers, mainly relating to overclaims, ahead of the October 16 commencement date for BPS payments to 130,000 farmers.

Payments to over 75,000 farmers under the Areas of Natural Constraint scheme, worth over €160m have been issuing.

However, 11,000 out of the 15,000 farmers still to receive payment have not met the annual average stocking density. Farmers have until December 31 to meet the requirements.

Payment for GLAS are expected to issue in November yet 7,932 nutrient management plans are still outstanding. Farmers will not be paid their outstanding payment for 2016 or payments for 2017 until this is lodged. The Department has written to 585 farmers who haven't been paid for 2016 GLAS and have issues outstanding.

So far there have been 13,000 applications lodged for TAMS but just 2,343 paid to date, however, with work under way on many farms, more payments are expected to issue shortly.

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TAMS budget

The recent Comptroller and Auditor General report showed the original budget for TAMS in 2016 was €35.8m but €15.5m has been deferred as payment claims have not been received as quickly as expected.

The Knowledge Transfer scheme payments will issue at the end of October. The facilitators will receive the monies and they will have 25 days to pay the farmer.

"The significant delays in 2016 - particularly in relation to GLAS - caused chaos and huge hardship for individual farmers," said Mr McCormack.

The IFA's vice president Richard Kennedy said there can be no excuses or delays around inspections, digitising or mapping issues. The IFA temporarily walked out of the Farmers' Charter meeting after the Agriculture Department refused to provide a full copy of the handbook issued to inspectors going on to farms.

The IFA claimed farmers should know the instructions given to inspectors going out on to farms. Mr Kennedy said to "remove the fear and anxiety" around inspections, the Department needs to be open and transparent about how they are carried out.

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