The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) president Dermot Kelleher has said the Department of Agriculture “must urgently address the fact that so many farmers have yet to receive” their BPS payments.

Kelleher said that the association has “been getting a lot of reports from farmers – a lot more than would be normal – who are still waiting on BPS payments more than two weeks after they should have been issued“.

Advance payments worth €738 million under the 2021 BPS (Basic Payment Scheme), including Greening, began issuing to 114,600 farmers on October 18. The advance payment commenced at a rate of 70%, which is an increase on the 50% normally allowed under regulation.

‘Left in limbo’ when it comes to BPS payments

Kelleher said that this is causing “enormous difficulties for those affected and needs to be sorted”.

“The problem is further compounded by the fact that farmers cannot get answers from the department as to what is causing the delays,” Kelleher said.

“Every farmer knows that it is difficult to get through to the relevant department person at the best of times, but it would appear things have got even worse.

“It’s just not good enough to be left in limbo when it comes to such an important payment. The department needs to come clean on just how many basic payments are outstanding, why this has happened, and what they intend to do about it.”

Kelleher also insisted that all Department of Agriculture offices should fully reopen to farmers.

“The majority of Covid-19-related flexibilities afforded to farmers have now been lifted. It cannot be one rule for farmers and another rule for department staff,” the ICSA president said.

“If it is being demanded of farmers that they get back to ‘normal’ – despite the ongoing pandemic – then all regional Department of Agriculture offices must reopen their doors to the public.”