The Department of Agriculture has paid in excess of €17m to farmers participating in the second and third tranche of the AEOS scheme to date in 2016, it has confirmed.

Payments to participants under the Agri-Environmental Option Scheme (AEOS) commenced on December 9, it says, and payments have been made to over 5,200 farmers involved in AEOS II and III.

The AEOS scheme was designed to help protect wildlife habitats, endangered species of flora and fauna and the broader rural environment and underpin the production of quality food in an environmentally friendly manner.

The Department is also in the process of making payments to all farmers who have meet all of the schemes requirements and have yet to receive such monies.

The AEOS scheme falls under the bracket of an area based scheme under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013.

As a result detailed administrative checks are required on all applications, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, to be completed before payments can issue.

These checks are necessary to ensure that applications meet the scheme conditions and cross-compliance requirements.

Department urged to make all payments before Christmas

The ICMSA has recently urged the Department of Agriculture to ensure that every effort is made to resolve outstanding issues and to ensure payments are made before Christmas.

ICMSA Deputy President, Pat McCormack said that ongoing difficulties are being experienced by farmers who have yet to receive payments from the Department of Agriculture.

In addition, he stressed how important it was that AEOS, GLAS, BDGP and outstanding ANC payments are also made immediately as that money is desperately needed to pay the costs associated with scheme participation.