Farm Ireland

Friday 19 January 2018

Viewpoint: Debt collectors and Revenue swooping in on basic payments

Revenue has been swooping in on basic payments.
Revenue has been swooping in on basic payments.
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

There is something a little off-putting about the speed at which debt collectors have been arriving in farmers' yards.

One whiff that the basic payment scheme is cranking into action and merchants are telling their salesman to go out and get a slice of it.

Of more concern is that some salesmen have told farmers they were told to go out and look for the money amid worries that it may not be there in the spring time.

And to be fair, many merchants have been allowing farmers the time to ensure their bank accounts are in the red before stepping in to pick up their cheque.

This year, though, there has been an added pressure on some farmers as the payments simply haven't arrived on time.

Some payments have been delayed by satellite inspections; others have been delayed by schemes like GLAS or new partnerships that have added a few more complications for the department.

The farm representative groups have reported a flurry of calls on the issue from farmers with major concerns about the delays.

Farmers have told how they've been joining the queue of callers to the Department, which says over 112,780 farmers have now received BPS payments totalling €714.4m.

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Some are dipping further and further into their overdraft facilities to tide them over.

While all this is happening, they've had another arm of the State - the Revenue Commissioners - coming acalling for their slice of the monies. And for some it has been a far heftier slice than usual after buoyant milk prices last year.

The rising pressures on many farmyard's come as the Irish Independent begins its 'Mind Yourself' mental health campaign.

For those working alone, in additional to the obvious dangers from livestock and the now ultra high-powered machinery on yards, there is the isolation and stress to deal with.

Farmers are no stranger to long hours, and the lack of regular sleep and tiredness can creep up, particularly when exacerbated by worries over income.

In this edition, Finola Colgan, from the voluntary support group, Mental Health Ireland, urges those going through a hard time to turn to others and seek support rather than withdrawing into themselves.

Research shows that farmers are no less immune to the stress and depression than any other sector of the workforce.

These conditions can eat into people's lives and quietly and invisibly wreck lives.

Depression is something that is widespread in farming but yet it is rarely talked about. This needs to change.

Indo Farming