At a meeting of the Charter of Rights Monitoring Committee in Portlaoise today, IFA Deputy President Tim O Leary told the Department of Agriculture that the ongoing payment delays for about 2,500 farmers are unacceptable and causing severe financial hardship for the farmers involved.
Tim O Leary said the delays, which mainly relate to Basic Payment, National Reserve and Young Farmers Top-Up, and involve partnerships, entitlement transfer and private contract clause cases, are complex. He told the Charter Monitoring Committee Chairman Dr Sean Brady that he must take the clear message from the Charter Committee to Minister Coveney that additional resources must be provided in the Department towards resolving these outstanding cases and delivering payments, without further delay.
At the meeting, the Department provided the latest update on payments as follows:
Basic Payment and Greening 122,291 farmers paid €1,100m
Areas of Natural Constraint 93,500 farmers paid €198.9m
Young Farmers and National Reserve 5,500 farmers paid
Beef Data and Genomics Programme 17,500 farmers paid €32m
TAMs II approvals 1,000 applicants
A significant issue at the Charter meeting was the ongoing problems farmers are encountering making telephone contact with the Department in order to resolve problems or deal with outstanding queries.
Tim O Leary said farmers are very frustrated with the inadequate telephone service and it was outlined at the meeting that this will be fully reviewed and overhauled for 2016. He said it is essential that farmers have full telephone access to the Department at all times so ongoing issues can be quickly resolved and bottlenecks avoided.
The Department gave an undertaking that they will be issuing a final payment and entitlement statement for 2015 over the next number of months.
Tim O Leary said IFA is insisting that the latest simplification measures from Commissioner Hogan such as the pre-checking of applications, reduced eligibility penalties and the yellow card system are fully in place for the 2016 schemes.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Henry Burns highlighted the problems with the current inspections on the Beef Data and Genomics Programme over the requirement to run heavily in-calf cows into a cattle crush for inspection. He said this is creating unnecessary welfare problems on the ground and requested the Department to adopt a more practical and flexible approach.