111,000 farmers to benefit from advance payments worth €700 million

A total of 111,000 farmers are set to benefit from advance payments worth €700 million under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, announced.

Following ex-hurricane Ophelia yesterday (October 16), Minister Creed announced the commencement of advance BPS and Greening payments today.

Commenting on the announcement, the minister said: “I am particularly pleased that these payments, worth some €700 million to 111,000 farmers, have now commenced issuing.

Every year, the advance payment of the BPS is a vital support for farmers across sectors in terms of maximising cash flow.

“It is a priority for my department that these payments issue in the most efficient manner possible, and that they commence on the earliest date possible under EU regulations.”

Similarly to last year, the department received European approval to issue advance payments of 70% – rather than the 50% rate provided for in EU legislation. The balancing payments are scheduled to begin from December 1.

The fact that 111,000 will benefit from the initial tranche of advance payments represents an increase of approximately 2,000 on the number of farmers paid at this stage last year, Minister Creed confirmed.

Over 90% of eligible applicants for the BPS have now been paid in this first tranche.

“As we move to full online application by 2018, my department will be able to introduce further efficiencies into the processing of payments which will be of direct benefit to farmers,” he said.

ANC payments

Meanwhile, Minister Creed added that the payments under the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme will continue to issue as cases receive clearance.

Combining the advance BPS payments and the ANC payments means that over €880 million has been issued to Irish farmers in the last month, the minister explained.

“These payments provide a significant financial boost for individual farmers and the wider rural economy.

I was delighted to secure an increase in the ANC scheme allocation for 2018. This €25 million increase will provide direct financial support to farmers in the most marginal areas of the country.

It is understood that advance payments will continue issuing regularly until mid-November, with balancing payments to start issuing early in December.

Minister Creed also confirmed that payments under the 2017 National Reserve and Young Farmers Scheme will commence early in December of this year.

Extended hours are now in place for the Direct Payments Helpline, in order to facilitate any farmers who wish to contact the department in relation to their BPS or ANC payments.

Between today, October 17, and Saturday, October 21, farmers can ring the department on: 076-1064420. This service will be available between 9:00am and 8:30pm on weekdays and between 9:00am and 1:00pm on Saturday.