The payment procedures that will be put in place for the EU Voluntary Milk Reduction Scheme have been confirmed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

A spokesperson for the Department said that the payment phase of the scheme will operate as per the initial application phase.

“In other words, the individual farmers will have to apply for their payment via their co-op. The Department is forwarding copies of this application form to the co-ops concerned.

“Individual applicants will complete a payment application form and return this to the Department via their processor after the processor has verified the actual reduction in milk output for the applicant.

“The closing date for this application will be February 15. The payment will then be made by the Department directly to the farmer.”

Responding to this development IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary called on the Department to issue the application forms immediately.

“This will allow farmers receive their application forms with the January milk cheques. It goes without saying that producers should complete and return their forms as quickly as possible.

“February 1 is a feasible target date in this regard. It’s then a case of the Department getting the money out to farmers as quickly as possible.”

Producers will be paid 14.4c/L on the actual milk reduction they achieved during the reference period. However, O’Leary believes that the fall-off in Irish milk output may not be as a large as originally envisaged.

“The December milk output figures actually point to a year-on-year increase,” he said.

ICMSA Dairy Committee Chairman Gerald Quain believes that the Department should post out the payment application forms directly to farmers.

The co-ops have to sign-off on the form but subject to that there is no reason why the Department could not start paying out the money before the end of January, he said.

“The co-ops are in a position to independently verify the milk reduction achieved by individual producers.

“Those farmers eligible for the scheme will, probably, have dried off all of their cows during December. And, as a consequence, they will be under immense cash flow pressure at the present time,” he said.