The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is being called on to ensure that farmers receive maximum payouts for this year’s schemes.

The association pointed to difficulties that arise around online applications and the postponement of clinics, saying that “every effort must be made to issue all payments that are due”.

“The department must pull out all the stops and make a strong case to the European Commission to pay farmers, whose files are selected for inspection, their advance payment on October 18,” said IFA deputy president Brian Rushe.

“This was delivered in 2020…and it’s unacceptable that it doesn’t apply for 2021 and beyond. This is very important as payments have been held up in the past because the inspection had not taken place or hadn’t gone through administrative process.”

On the review of the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) review, Rushe argued that the digitisation process “cannot hold up payments”.

He added that any pre-payment queries from farmers should be addressed and resolved over the phone with the department.

Michael Biggins, the association’s rural development chairperson, welcomed the recent commencement of Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments.

The department recently said that there will be twice-weekly payment runs to pay ANC payments to farmers as they clear the required stocking rates. The remaining 15% of payments will be issued in December.

Biggins also called for the department to pay as many farmers as possible when the advance Basic Payments Scheme (BPS) payment is due from October 18.

Meanwhile, payments under the Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme – Sucklers (BEEP-S) and the Beef Date and Genomics Programme (BDGP) will commence in December.

However, IFA livestock chairperson Brendan Golden said that there are ongoing issues farmers are facing with the online application process, whereby applications are not being picked up by the department.

“There are farmers who are carrying out the measures of the scheme on the understanding they are participating in the scheme only to be told that they never applied,” Golden claimed.

On the Sheep Welfare Scheme, IFA sheep chairperson Sean Dennehy welcomed the department’s decision to provide 2017 as the new reference year under the scheme and 2019 as the reference year for new entrants to the scheme.

“It’s important this is finalised in the coming weeks and farmers are informed of their new scheme numbers. The advance scheme payments will issue in mid-November. The payment is vital for the sector, which heavily depends on direct payments,” Dennehy argued.