THE issuing of €370 million in balancing payments to farmers under the single payment scheme starts today.
Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith said the 30% balancing money will bring to €1.23 billion the total paid out to almost 122,000 farmers since October 16.
Given the circumstances experienced by farmers this year, he said he was particularly pleased in the light of a European Commission decision to bring forward advance payments of over €864m.
This was a full six weeks sooner than is provided for under the rules of the scheme, while the level of advance payment at 70% was unprecedented.
Mr Smith also said he would be requesting the approval of the Dáil on Thursday for a supplementary estimate for his department.
This would allow him to bring forward €85m in payments under the Farm Waste Management Scheme and the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS), which would otherwise would have been paid in the new year. If approved, his department’s spending on REPS this year would reach a record €369m.
Mr Smith confirmed that €2m funding is in place for a fodder aid scheme.
He said some of the application forms available from his department’s website and its local offices as well as those of Teagasc have already been distributed.
“I hope payments can commence without delay so farmers who lost fodder can start to replace it as soon as possible,” he said.
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