No change to BPS application date due to Covid-19 – department
The Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) application date will not be changed due to measures in relation to preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus Covid-19, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
In a lengthy statement issued tonight, Friday, March 13, the department noted that it is working closely with the Department of Health and others as part of a whole-of-government response to the coronavirus.
The department said it is taking all of the precautions necessary to protect its staff and its clients, consistent with HSE advice, but is remaining open for business, prioritising the delivery of essential services to farmers, fishermen and the food and forestry sectors.
Stressing that the BPS application date will not be changed, the department added:
Any delay in inspections or change to the application date may lead to delays in payments later in the year, and we are anxious to avoid this at all costs.
“The updating of the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) is a rolling process which will go ahead. Farmers will be updated as we proceed.”
Continuing, it was noted that the department is taking necessary steps to ensure: that producers and processors can continue to operate effectively and keep supply lines open; and that the department can operate as effectively as possible during the current pandemic.
The Department of Agriculture outlined some of its key priorities including: keeping food and other processing facilities operational, and ensuring that payments and commercial activities – which are necessary to protect farm incomes – can continue.
It highlighted that a lot of these depend on the department’s ability to carry out its regulatory and inspection functions.
The authority stressed that it will ensure that its staff operate in accordance with protocols that follow Health Service Executive (HSE) advice.
This advice will evolve, and the department will ensure that it continues to observe best practice in all of its activities.
In terms of agribusiness regulation – including departmental supervision, inspection, control and certification – the department affirmed its commitment to providing the necessary services.
These will include regulatory duties in meat and milk plants, marts, breeding establishments, feed manufacturers and suppliers, egg suppliers, suppliers of animal medicines and other agri-products, among others, it was confirmed.
The department’s commitment extends to ensuring that the systems and infrastructure on which its sectors depend on a daily basis, are operating and functional, and that its laboratories are available for diagnostic services and regulatory functions.
There is no reason for consumers to be concerned about continuity of supply of Irish food and drinks. Senior department officials met Food Drink Ireland on Wednesday, March 11, to discuss contingency planning for the food processing sector.
Food processors, along with all other businesses and employers, are implementing business continuity plans to deal with possible disruption.
In the longer term, there may be significant economic impacts for Irish business, including the agri-food sector, arising from reduced demand in key markets around the world, the authority warned.
A range of supports for businesses have already been announced by the Government, including the SBCI Covid-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme, which is co-funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Continuing, a department spokesperson added:
“Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has written to Commissioner for Agriculture Wojciechowski, following the announcement from President von der Leyen of a very significant economic package to respond to the crisis, seeking to ensure that the full range of market supports available under the Common Market Organisation Regulation are available for deployment in response to any emerging market disturbance.
The department’s public offices will remain open for the present.
As always, farmers should remember to observe basic biosecurity protocols and safety rules when working on the farm.