Over 900 farmers are still waiting on payment under the Agricultural Environment and Options Scheme (AEOS) 3, the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has confirmed.

Responding to a parliamentary question this week he said said outstanding payments under AEOS 3 are largely due to unresolved queries associated with applications.

“In most instances officials in my Department will have contacted the applicants concerned with the intention of issuing payment as soon as possible.”

According to the Minister under the EU Regulations governing the scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check of all applications, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue.

He said successive EU audits have made it absolutely clear that compliance with the Regulations must be strictly adhered to and that all administrative checks must be passed and eligibility conditions met before payment issues.

“As a result, my Department is obliged to ensure that individual payments will not issue until all aspects of a farmer’s application are in order, all outstanding documentation provided and all queries resolved,” he said.

Of the 5,856 eligible AEOS 3 applications, 909 cases are still being processed and have not yet received payment, he said.

Minister Coveney said there are 120 inspection cases completed that have a penalty as a result of the inspection.

“It is expected to commence payments, less penalties, in these cases in early May, regardless of whether there is an appeal or not,” he said.

In addition he said any adjustment to payments as a result of an appeal will be processed in due course following the determination of each appeal.