Payments under the 2014 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme have started being issued today, on schedule, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney.

“I am particularly pleased to see that these payments, worth some €149 million, are issuing on target, particularly given the significance of Direct Aid payments to individual farmers and the wider rural community”, the Minister said.

The Minister confirmed that payments will continue to issue as individual cases are confirmed eligible for payment. “I expect in the region of 71,500 eligible farmers will receive their payments in the coming days, although it will in reality take at least one week to issue such a large volume of payments. However, there are a significant number who currently appear ineligible under the stocking provisions; these farmers can submit appropriate evidence to my Department’s Portlaoise Office, following which their payments will then be released” the Minister continued.

Minister Coveney noted that the value of payments issuing in the first tranche is significantly up on the equivalent 2013 figure, when €122 million issued. In addition, the number of farmers being paid is up from 58,000 to 71,500. “These figures underscore my determination to maximise payments to farmers at the earliest possible time”, the Minister said.

“While farmers who have yet to satisfy the average stocking density of 0.15 livestock units per forage hectare for the year have the remaining months of the year to do so, such cases can only be cleared for payment once this requirement has been confirmed”. The Minister explained that applications cannot be processed for payment where this requirement has not been met and suggested that, where farmers were satisfied that the requirement has already been met, the appropriate proof be submitted to his Department for noting. Such proof comprises horse passports, sheep registers, etc.

“While my Department can confirm that the minimum stocking density requirement has been met for the bulk of applicants through Department records, many farmers will only be confirmed as reaching this minimum requirement through the submission of the necessary manual records” the Minister said, adding “I would, therefore, urge those who consider that they have satisfied the Scheme stocking requirements to submit relevant manual records for noting without delay, thereby facilitating the speedy processing of their applications and allowing their payments to issue.”

He also confirmed that payments under the Scheme would continue to issue, as individual cases continue to be cleared, adding “I can also confirm that arrangements are well advanced and on target to allow payment of the 50% Advance of the Single Payment, with effect from 16 October, again mindful of the need to assist farmers’ cash flows.”