The current problems in relation to the Disadvantaged Area Scheme are creating considerable difficulties for individual farmers and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food should immediately take further measures to ensure that all farmers receive their payments without any further delay , according to Mr. John Comer, Deputy President and Chairperson of ICMSA's Farm Services and Environment Committee.
While welcoming the Ministers statement today regarding the speeding up of payments, Mr Comer observed that the Farmers ' Charter commitment to pay Disadvantaged Area payments in September and in full has been breached through no fault of the farmer and further actions are needed to address farmer concerns.
The ICMSA Deputy President described as ' absolutely ridiculous ' a situation that had farmers only receiv ing letters regarding errors in September for application s that w ere submitted back in May. He said that f armers are rightly asking why these letters were not sent out during the summer so that errors could be resolved well in advance of payment dates. Mr Comer said particular anger was centred on the issue of map changes : ' the reality is that these changes will have little if any impact on the level of payment to farmers and it is just another example of pointless bure aucracy and infuriating . '
' The Minister's decision to pay the outstanding 75% immediately to cleared cases , while welcome , should go further and any farmer whose application is clear should be paid his/her full entitlement immediately rather than waiting for the 20 October. Many farmers were dependent on this payment to meet loan and other commitments and banks are showing no mercy in applying surcharges when loans repayments are late so it 's essential that payments are released immediately ', stated Mr Comer.
Eq ually annoy ing to farmers is the delay and difficult ies being encountered in contacting the Department to try and resolve issues. Farmers simply cannot get in contact with the Department to resolve issues. Mr Comer said this is unacceptable and the Minister should establish a facility at each local office where a farmer can call in to resolve issues while long overdue improvements are made to the departmental phone service so that legitimate queries and issues can at least be raised and clarified .
Direct payments are a huge proportion of farmers ' incomes and it is essential that any problems are cleared and that the SFP payments due on the 16 th October are made promptly , concluded Mr. Comer.
Ends. 29 September 2010.
Queries to Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office