The Deputy President of ICMSA has welcomed a position update from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food confirming that they are ahead of schedule in processing this year’s BPS/Greening payments and expect to meet this year’s timelines without a repeat of the chaos that accompanied, for instance, the recent GLAS payments. Speaking following a meeting of the Farmers Charter, Pat McCormack said that farmers would be encouraged by the update but final judgement will be retained till the actual timelines were reached and performance could be more accurately assessed.
“Autumn is the season of farmers’ bills and it’s hugely important that that the ANC payment is made as early as possible in September while the BPS/Greening payment must be paid on 16 October for all farmers with the advance payment of at least 70% made as usual. This is permitted under EU regulations and we want the maximum amount possible paid to farmers in the first instalment as has been the case in recent years so that bills are paid and no extra interest is accrued on outstanding debt”, he said.
“With that timeline in mind, we stressed at the meeting how crucial it is that the Department inform farmers of problems or errors as speedily as possible so that issues can be resolved and finalised well in advance of the payment date. No issue is a cause of more complaint or frustration then farmers getting get correspondence from the Department close to – or even after – the payment date citing issues that are holding up their payment and it is essential that all such queries are issued to farmers before 1 September. We cannot have a situation, for instance, where farmers are told their application is gone for digitisation in October or November and so will delay their payment. These issues or similar problems need to be resolved now”, continued Mr. McCormack
In relation to the Department’s proposal to move to an exclusively online system in 2018, Mr. McCormack noted the fact that around 17,500 farmers had used the paper-based system in 2017 highlighted the challenges around this ambitious 2018 target and it might just have to be accepted that moving to a completely online system so quickly is going to present severe practical difficulties he concluded.
Ends 13 July 2017.
Pat McCormack, 087-7608958
Deputy President, ICMSA.
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office