The payment of outstanding monies due to farmers under the Single Farm Payment and Disadvantaged Areas Scheme must be the priority of the Department at this stage given the importance of these payments to farmer income, cashflow and in meeting scheduled loan repayments due this time of year.
That’s according to Pat McCormack, ICMSA Deputy President and Tipp town farmer, who was speaking after a meeting of the Farmers Charter.
Farmers will be liable for the surcharges imposed by banks where payments are delayed and it is thus essential that these payments are made immediately, he said.
“While ICMSA acknowledges the progress made by the Department in issuing payments, we are still obliged to point out that 11,000 farmers are still waiting for the Single Farm Payment and 14,000 are waiting for the Disadvantaged Areas Payment.
“To date, over 112,000 farmers have been paid their SFP and 82,000 their DAS payment but there are still very considerable numbers with due payments outstanding whose families can be heavily – or indeed, wholly – dependant on these monies.
“The problems around these outstanding SFP payments seem to centre on over-claim issues while there are problems around the stocking rates that have led to the non-payment of DAS, the Department must deal with these matters immediately,” said Mr McCormack.
The ICMSA deputy president noted that the payment of 75 per cent of the REPS 4 premium in November was very welcome and previous plans to delay payment to farmers exiting REPS 4 until January have been scrapped
“Some 75 per cent will be paid where no follow-up action is required, the remaining 25 per cent will be paid when all of the spot checks have been carried out this year, that’s targeted to be Mid-December and payment will follow after that”, said Mr McCormack.
“The TAMS Dairy scheme has also received good news insofar as a reallocation of monies from other schemes means that all valid applicants for the tranche that ended August 31 will be paid. This in turn means that those applying for the last tranche at the year’s end should be successful in their application,” he noted.
Mr McCormack also observed that the figures from Department highlighted that the key areas of concern in Cross Compliance are Nitrates, GAEC and Bovine Identification and registration.
“Within Nitrates the main areas of concern are management and collection of farmyard manure. Inspections are becoming more stringent - as seen by the increasing number of penalties imposed in the last three years - and it is clear that most penalties are due to minor technical breaches in regulations which should be dealt with by a yellow card system that takes account of the practical realities of farming rather than imposing unnecessary financial penalties on farmers,” he said.