In order to avoid a repeat of the payment delays experienced in 2015 and to meet their commitments set down under the Farmers Charter, the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine should be informing farmers where they have a problem in relation to their Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) or ANC (formerly Disadvantaged Areas Scheme) payment immediately or by the end of August at the absolute latest, according to Pat McCormack, Deputy President of ICMSA.
The Tipp town farmer said that in a year when incomes are down substantially, it is simply critical that all farmers receive their BPS by 16th October and ANC payment in the third week of September and the inordinately long delays that some individual farmers experienced in 2015 cannot be repeated. To ensure these delays do not re-occur, Mr. McCormack said that all applications, including entitlement transfers, should be processed by the end of August and letters issued to those farmers deemed to have issues requiring resolution. Under the Farmers Charter, the Department is committed “to have all problems dealt with by 15th September” and if this commitment is going to be met then farmers need to be informed without delay so that they can address the problems raised, respond to the Department, and have the issue finalised by the 15th September.
To assist and speed up the process the situation, Mr. McCormack said the Department should also text a confirmation all farmers whose applications have been finalised and processed without errors so that these farmers can be assured that, firstly, their payment will be made on time and, secondly that they – the farmers – will not have to phone the Department to clarify their position. This will provide these farmers with a degree of reassurance that their payment will be made on time but it will also free up Department resources to deal with farmers who have issues with their application.
“The Department have had applications since as early as last February and all applications since 15 May and we don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that any problems would be identified and notified to the farmers by the end of August with the problems being resolved by the Department by the middle of September. For a number of years now individual farmers have experienced very considerable delays in payment that have caused absolute chaos in terms of cash-flow and repayment schedules, etc, and in the context of the income wipe-out experienced by dairy farmers this year, ICMSA is stating now categorically that these kinds of chaotic delays cannot be repeated because farmers just don’t have any room-to-manoeuvre after the last 18 months. This is the acid test for the Farmers’ Charter and we’ll be able to judge how seriously the Department takes the Charter by looking at how they meet their obligations on payments as set out in the Charter”, said the ICMSA Deputy President.
Ends 8 August 2016.
Pat McCormack, 087-7608958
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office