A HUGE number of farmers are still awaiting their initial Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS) payments, according to Ireland’s main farmer representative groups.
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) and the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) both welcomed the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food’s restatement this week of its month-old pledge to issue 50% of the Single Farm Payments next Monday, followed by the remaining 25% of the disadvantaged area payments on Wednesday.
However, the farm groups also noted that some farmers are still awaiting their initial DAS payment, in many cases having received no correspondence from the department to date. Given that the payment delays thus far have related to mapping problems and administrative backlogs, the farm groups remain dubious that all of their members will receive their payments on schedule.
IFA president John Bryan warned: “The mapping problems which have arisen this year must not be an obstacle to making payments and, with further payments due next month such as REPS and AEOS, there must not be further disruption.”
He added that the full €650 million due must be paid to all farmers, as it is vital to the financial survival of farmers across all sectors under pressure to pay bills and meet banking commitments.
The IFA president said that recent delays arising from mapping problems must not disrupt the payout of the Single Farm Payment and any issues arising should be dealt with prior to the next 50% payout on December 1 next.
Mr Bryan also called for Disadvantaged Areas problems to be sorted out immediately with the final 25% payment due to be made on Wednesday. The full €220m due must be paid out without further delay, he said.
This sentiment was echoed by John Comer, deputy president and chairperson of ICMSA’s farm services and environment committee.
Mr Comer pointed out that some farmers who have been paid DAS payments did not get 75% of their expected payment, but instead received 75% of the parcels that have been cleared to date by the department, a lag which has created huge confusion and concern amongst farmers.
Mr Comer reminded the minister that it was vital that all farmers receive their full 50% advance payment of the Single Farm Payment next week. He also noted that farmers who have received correspondence, or who wish to check their application, are finding it almost impossible to get through to the department by phone.
Mr Comer said that farm families are very anxiously waiting for these payments, because the reality for many farm families is that these payments represent 100% of their annual farm income.
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