Farm schemes in 2020: When can farmers expect payment?

The maximum payout of this year’s farm schemes, given the difficulties arising from Covid-19 restrictions, has been called for by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Following a meeting of an IFA delegation with officials in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine today (Friday, September 4), IFA deputy president Brian Rushe said:

“Given the restrictions in place at the time of application, the postponement of clinics and remote working in the Department of Agriculture, every effort must be made to issue all payments that are due.

“The IFA urged the department to put in place alternative arrangements for farmers who normally attend the very important clinics at the Department of Agriculture Stand at the [National] Ploughing Championships, which isn’t taking place due to the Covid-19 restrictions,” the deputy president said.

The department committed to putting in more resources through a dedicated telephone service with extended hours to help farmers who have any queries on their payment status.

Continuing, Rushe said it was important that any pre-payment queries can be addressed as many issues can be resolved over the phone.

Farmers who have a query from the department are asked to respond immediately. Otherwise, their payment will be held up.

ANC payments and LPIS

IFA National Rural Development Committee chairman Michael Biggins welcomed the commitment by the department to bring Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments out on Wednesday, September 16, which is in line with previous years.

85% payment will be issued to all farmers whose land area has been cleared and who have met the minimum stocking.

The remaining 15% payment will be issued in early December. Up to 100,000 will qualify for ANC payments in 2020 worth up to €250 million, the IFA says.

The department was also urged to pay out as many farmers as possible when the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) is due from Friday, October 16. The balancing 30% payment will be made on December 1.

The department also confirmed to the IFA that where there are files selected for inspection, these cases will be paid the 70% advance payment.

This is an important development as payments have been held up in the past as the inspection had not taken place or hadn’t gone through the administrative process.

In relation to the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) review in counties Monaghan, Meath, Cavan, Longford and Leitrim, Rushe stressed that where digitising is required, it cannot hold up payments.

Livestock schemes

In relation to other livestock schemes, IFA National Livestock Committee chairman Brendan Golden said that vital supports to the drystock sector must be paid on time.

Such schemes as the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP), Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) and the Sheep Welfare Scheme are an important income support for sectors where cash-flow is very difficult. Payments under these schemes will commence in November.

Concluding, Rushe pointed out that direct payments are worth up to €1.8 billion to farmers.

For many sectors such as livestock, tillage and hill sheep, the direct payments represent more than 100% of income. Any delay in payments has financial repercussions for farmers.