Delays in the processing of payments by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine due to “mapping issues” are causing “untold hardship to farmers”, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

Tim Farrell, the association’s rural development chairperson, said that the issues affected the Basic Payments Scheme (BPS) and the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme.

“The practice of indefinitely withholding 100% of payments is unjust and the impact on farm families cannot be overstated,” Farrell argued.

Minister Michael Creed has acknowledged that 1,952 remote sensing inspections under the BPS have yet to be completed, while a further 98 farms have been inspected by satellite but remain unpaid.

“In addition, 2,505 farmers await ANC payments with only one third of these having been inspected to date,” Farrell highlighted.

“Farmers are not being furnished with any information as to how long it will take to have their individual cases resolved. This is extremely frustrating for farmers who rely on these funds to pay their bills and service their loans,” the ICSA rural development chair argued.

“If delays are being caused on the department side, they should at the very least issue an interim payment while the issues are resolved,” he added.

It is understood that the department is updating its mapping and imagery systems for EU-funded schemes, in a process that is set to continue over the next two years.