‘100% online BPS applications must mean no delays in payments’

The Department of Agriculture’s switch to 100% online applications should mean no more delays in letting farmers know of issues with their submissions, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

The deputy president of ICMSA Lorcan McCabe has also called on the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to deal sympathetically with any late applicants due to the fact that it is the first year of such a change across the board.

McCabe was speaking following the passing of the deadline for submission of Basic Payment Scheme / Areas of Natural Conservation applications and the transfer of entitlements for 2018.

There will be a small number of cases – particularly older farmers – who may still not have submitted their applications and leniency should be shown towards if the need arises, the deputy president said.

Now that 100% of applications are online, the ICMSA has said there should be no delay in informing farmers if there is an issue with their application.

This must be done as soon as possible so that farmers can respond, and an issue resolved well in advance of the payment date, the organisation added.

Given the extremely difficult year farmers have had to date, McCabe said, it is essential that the ANC payment is made in September, the BPS payment in October and that all farmers must receive their payment within the Farmers Charter commitments.

In addition, the Minister for Agriculture must seek the maximum possible advance payment as cashflow is and will continue to be a major issue on farms.

It is essential that a 70% advance payment at a minimum is secured, he contended.

Concluding, McCabe noted that maximum flexibility must be applied by the Department of Agriculture after what has been a complete transition to online with huge efforts made by farmers in the last number of months.