47% of Young Farmers Scheme and National Reserve payments still outstanding
Thousands of young farmers are still waiting on payments from the Department of Agriculture.
Payments under the National Reserve and Young Farmers Scheme commenced in mid-December 2015.
According to the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, to date some 53% of eligible applicants under both the National Reserve and Young Farmers Scheme have received payment. He says these payments will continue into January/February 2016.
The Department of Agriculture previously confirmed that it received over 7,000 National Reserve and 8,500 Young Farmers Scheme applications.
“My Department will continue to prioritise the payment of eligible cases under the National Reserve and Young Farmers Scheme to ensure that payment is made as soon as possible,” the Minister has said.
The Minster has said that where the Department has contacted applicants seeking further information or documentation to further process their application, he would encourage these applicants to engage with the Department to ensure that their application can be finalised.
Applicants can use the dedicated e-mail address of [email protected] to contact the processing section directly regarding information relating to their application.
Young farmer reaction
Macra na Feirme met Minister Coveney yesterday (Thursday) to discuss issues around payment delays to young farmers.
Speaking about the delay in making payments to young farmers, its President Sean Finan said the delays experienced by young farmers are ‘totally unacceptable’ and ‘not good enough’.
“The delays are causing considerable hardship for the young farmers affected,” he said.
Minister Coveney confirmed that the Department of Agriculture would be transferring additional resources to the young farmer section of the Department of Agriculture to speed up the processing of young farmer payment applications and the Minister also agreed to increase the number of payment runs to two per week until all young farmers applications and payments have been processed.
The Macra na Feirme President also highlighted the annoyance of farmers and difficulty in communicating with the Department of Agriculture to establish the status of applications.
“If farmers knew the status of applications and the lines of communication with the Department of Agriculture were open, then this would ease the frustration experienced,” Finan said.
The Minister acknowledged and accepted that there was a communication issue and that he said this was going to be addressed.
Macra na Feirme is calling for an immediate meeting of the Charter of Rights monitoring committee.
“The delays experienced in receiving payments and dates of payments are outside the terms of the charter of rights agreement which Macra na Feirme was involved in negotiating with the Department of Agriculture,” he said.