ICMSA want payment dates “front and centre” in Farmers’ Charter negotiations.
Speaking following the latest meeting on the Farmers Charter negotiations, the Deputy President of ICMSA, Mr. Denis Drennan, said that his Association wanted the vexed issue of payment dates to be ‘front and centre’ in discussions and the Department cannot continue to avoid the seriousness of the issue. Mr. Drennan said that farmers were unconvinced that the Department understood exactly how frustrating it was to have payment dates changed unilaterally with little understanding of the impact on farmers. He said that ICMSA had repeated its call for the Department to bring forward payments in 2023 and to commit to further improvements in 2024 given the importance of these payments to farmers incomes. Responding to the Department’s undertakings on the matter, Mr. Drennan said that farmers had moved past unquestioning acceptance of what he called “airy assurances” on these matters.
“The Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine met farm organisations in April and assured us that measures would be taken to address our concerns. ICMSA accepts that a number of other issues have been addressed, but no progress can be noted on the substantive issue of payment dates. We cannot accept as progress a vague commitment on the part of the Minister’s officials to a review in 2024 which, frankly, commits the Minister to absolutely nothing. What is required are specific dates over the period covered by this Charter on at least the same basis of guarantee that we had with the previous Charter”, said Mr. Drennan.
Pointing out that we are over half-way through 2023 and problems are building up across schemes from ACRES to BISS to TAMS for which farmers will pay a very heavy price later this year. “It is absolutely up to the Department to get its house in order as soon as possible and get these payments processed in line with previous years. With milk, beef, grain and sheep prices down on 2022 and with input costs either static or falling at slower levels than output prices, farm incomes will see a substantial reduction in 2023 and farm scheme payments will again become a greater percentage of overall farm income. Just as an example of how these payments affect the whole picture, we know that cattle prices improve when the payments are made and the September and October period is critical for farmers who sell weanlings in particular. That’s just one aspect of why we need concrete commitments on dates and then delivery on those commitments”, he concluded.
Ends 21 July 2023
Denis Drennan, 086-8389401
Deputy President, ICMSA.
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office
+353 (0)61 314677
ICMSA Head Office
John Feely House