‘It is critical that all farmers receive their Basic Payment by October 16’

It is simply critical that all farmers receive their Basic Payment Scheme and Areas of Natural Constraint payments by October 16 and the third week in September, ICMSA Deputy President, Pat McCormack has said.

He said that the inordinately long delays that some individual farmers experienced in 2015 cannot be repeated.

“In order to avoid a repeat of the payment delays experienced in 2015 and to meet their commitments set down under the Farmers Charter, the Department of Agriculture, should be informing farmers where they have a problem in relation to their BPS or ANC payment immediately or by the end of August at the absolute latest.”

He said that to ensure these delays do not re-occur, McCormack said that all applications, including entitlement transfers, should be processed by the end of August and letters issued to those farmers deemed to have issues requiring resolution.

“Under the Farmers Charter, the Department is committed ‘to have all problems dealt with by September 15 and if this commitment is going to be met then farmers need to be informed without delay so that they can address the problems raised, respond to the Department, and have the issue finalised by the September 15.”

To assist and speed up the process the situation, McCormack said the Department should also text a confirmation all farmers whose applications have been finalised and processed without errors so that these farmers can be assured that, firstly, their payment will be made on time and, secondly that they – the farmers – will not have to phone the Department to clarify their position.

The ICMSA Deputy President said that this will provide these farmers with a degree of reassurance that their payment will be made on time but it will also free up Department resources to deal with farmers who have issues with their application.

“The Department has had applications since as early as last February and all applications since May 15 and we don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that any problems would be identified and notified to the farmers by the end of August with the problems being resolved by the Department by the middle of September.

“For a number of years now individual farmers have experienced very considerable delays in payment that have caused absolute chaos in terms of cash-flow and repayment schedules, etc.

“In the context of the income wipe-out experienced by dairy farmers this year, ICMSA is stating now categorically that these kinds of chaotic delays cannot be repeated because farmers just don’t have any room-to-manoeuvre after the last 18 months.

“This is the acid test for the Farmers’ Charter and we’ll be able to judge how seriously the Department takes the Charter by looking at how they meet their obligations on payments as set out in the Charter,” he said.