Department ‘gives clarification that inspections will not delay payments’ – INHFA

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has apparently provided “written clarification” to one farming organisation that the farm inspection process will not delay the roll-out of advance payments.

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) said that inspections will not be delayed for the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme and the Basic Payments Scheme (BPS).

Colm O’Donnell, the association’s president, said that: “The third week in September, which sees the commencement of payments through the ANC scheme, is eagerly anticipated for these farmers.

Unfortunately, over the last number of years, many farmers have not received that payment or their BPS payment in mid-October, creating all sorts of financial stresses. When queried, it has often transpired that the inspection process is what resulted in these non-payments.

According to O’Donnell, the department will pay farmers advance payments, with any issues to be resolved through later pay-outs.

However, the INHFA president noted that “there is a possibility that payments may still be held up, especially for the ANC scheme, where difficulties relating to stocking rates can feature”.

The department has also apparently told the farm organisation that “no unannounced inspections” will take place, and that farmers who may have Covid-19 related issues on their farms “would be treated with sensitivity and on a case-by-case basis”.

According to O’Donnell, the department confirmed that it plans to make an advance payment on the BPS of 70% and on the ANC scheme of 85%. The possibility of pay-outs being made at earlier-than-usual dates is also being considered.

However, he argued that “this cannot be a substitute for the additional support needed for primary producers”.