Healy-Rae: All farmers should be paid BPS payments now and not in ‘near future’

Farmers are being put into financial turmoil due to not receiving their Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments yet, according to independent TD Michael Healy-Rae.

The Kerry TD renewed his calls on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue to pay farmers their BPS monies as he rejected the minister’s response to have the matter resolved “in the near future”.

Commenting, deputy Healy-Rae said: “In a year where farmers cannot attend marts to get best prices for cattle, no farmer should be left waiting for a payment and using software issues is scandalous.

Farmers don’t have the luxury of waiting for payments that they are owed and, while many have received payments, it is frustrating for the many hardworking farmers that are still waiting due to the department software issues.

In response to a parliamentary question on the matter, deputy Healy-Rae said that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine confirmed to him that there are a number of issues, “which may delay a payment to a farmer”, citing a number of complex cases that take somewhat longer to resolve than usual.

The minister confirmed that his department is committed to continuous improvement of service and that they were acutely aware that resolving such complex cases in the past lead to such delays in issuing payments to farmers.

Continuous systems development is required to improve payment delivery and customer service, the minister added.

My department received over 129,000 applications in 2020 for the BPS, of which just over 122,000 are currently eligible. To date, over 120,000 farmers have received almost €800 million in advance payments and payments have continued since they commenced on October 16.

“Officials in my department are currently working to address the issue highlighted by the deputy and will have it resolved in the near future,” Minister McConalogue affirmed.

“It is estimated that fewer than 1,000 farmers in total are affected by this issue, with a significant number of these having more than one issue to resolve.”

In response, deputy Healy-Rae said: “There is a long wait between now and the near future for some farmers who have already suffered massive losses due to Covid-19, especially with the current restrictions on marts.”