Farm Ireland

Friday 15 December 2017

TAMS and GLAS underspend hit €65m in 2016

Fianna Fail's Charlie McConalogue.
Fianna Fail's Charlie McConalogue.
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Concerns over a "manifest underspend" on agri-schemes is growing as the State missed its GLAS spending target by €37m last year, new figures reveal.

In 2016, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) generated a saving of €84m from total allocated funds of €1,351m.

The largest savings were made under GLAS (€37m), TAMS (€28m), Forestry (€9.2m), AEOS (€8.5m) and Food Safety Animal Health and Welfare (€3m).

In a statement, the DAFM said that while savings arose across a number of demand-led schemes in 2016, much of this expenditure will arise at a later stage of implementation.

However, with some 10,000 farmers in GLAS still awaiting 2016 payments, Fianna Fáil's Éamon O Cuív says "there is no more room for excuses".

"All we're hearing is excuses on how they are failing to meet their own targets through delays and inefficiencies. We know GLAS payments are late this year, and that will be the same story when the scheme finishes up in 2020," he said.

"There will be a significant underspend in GLAS and it will continue to manifest unless they totally change their tack," he said.

At end of December 2016, there were 37,500 active participants in the GLAS scheme of which 27,400 received 85pc of their 2016 payment.

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Payment can only be issued where all the required validation checks have been successfully passed. Some 10,100 cases did not pass all the checks.

Minster for Agriculture, Michael Creed said work on processing these cases, including development of further IT functionality, is on-going with a view to effecting payment as quickly as possible.

ICMSA President John Comer said savings under Food Safety, Animal Health and Welfare should be used to make a final push to eradicate BVD and "reduce costs on farmers as promised".

FF agriculture spokesman Charlie McConalogue said the underspend should be used to establish a crisis fund for hundreds of tillage farmers whose crop was destroyed during last year's harvest.

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