The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is being urged to take the option of paying out higher advances payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Yesterday (Wednesday, August 4), the European Commission adopted a measure to allow farmers to receive higher advances of Pillar I and Pillar II payments.

The measure will allow member states to pay income support and certain rural development schemes to farmers with a higher level of advances: Up to 70% (up from 50%) of direct payments (Pillar I) and 85% (up from 75%) of rural development payments (Pillar II).

This move by the commission has been welcomed by the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), whose deputy president, Lorcan McCabe, highlighted that payments under both Pillar I and Pillar II would be made on October 16.

“Direct payments represent a very significant proportion of farmers’ income annually and the early and efficient payment of these supports is critical at a time of year when typically annual bills are paid and bank loan repayments are scheduled,” McCabe highlighted.

“The decision of the European Commission to allow higher advance payments on October 16, is very welcome,” he added.

“We have to be able to depend now on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to avail of this option and ensure that the maximum number of farmers are paid the allowable advance payments on October 16, or as close to that date as possible,” McCabe concluded.

Safeguards to protect the EU budget apply to these payments, so they can be disbursed once controls and checks have been finalised.

A rigorous system of checks ensures that funds are delivered only to the intended beneficiaries and in the correct amounts.

The commission states that EU countries must have adequate systems in place to protect against incorrect payments or fraud.