This year is a critical year for applications for farm payments, according to IFA President Eddie Downey.

Speaking in the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee recently Downey warned that farmers applications to the new Basic Payment Scheme will set the scene for the payments they are going to get for the next number of years.

“It will also set the scene for the amount of money we will draw down and bring into this country on an annual basis over the next number of years,” he said.

Highlighting to members of the Committee confusion among farmers regarding the new scheme Downey said it was a failure on the Department’s part to get the information, in full, out to farmers.

“It is critical that we have clarity on the information that farmers and consultants have in regards to making these applications.

“It is critical that we get these right so as we are not getting fines down the road,” he said

According to Downey, the only way farmers can be sure of that is to have the proper information available to them.

The Basic Payment Scheme and Greening Payment replace the Single Payment Scheme in 2015 and a new set of payment entitlements will be allocated to those eligible to take part in the scheme.

To be eligible to take part in the scheme an applicant must be an active farmer who holds an allocation right and must submit a Basic Payment Scheme application in 2015.

Direct Payments to eligible farmers will be based on the value of their Basic Payment Scheme entitlements together with a Greening payment and payment on any other associated scheme that the farmer participates in.

The number of entitlements that will be allocated will be determined by the number of eligible hectares declared by the farmer in 2013 or 2015, whichever is the lesser.

The value of entitlements that will be allocated will be based on a fixed percentage of the value of Single Payment Scheme entitlements owned by the farmer in 2014 and any payment received under the 2014 Grassland Sheep Scheme.

A definitive calculation of the number and value of entitlements cannot be issued until all land is declared and accepted as eligible in 2015.