It is not possible to spread farming payments under the various farm payment schemes over 12 monthly payments in order to provide some income certainty according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Simon Coveney.
In response to a parliamentary question this week he said the rules governing the making of Direct Payments and other schemes including area based schemes are set out in EU regulations.
He said the regulations specify that payments under the Single Payment Scheme and the Basic Payment Scheme shall be made within the period from December 1 to June 30 of the following calendar year.
He said the regulations also say payments shall be made in a maximum of two instalments within that period. The regulation further allows Member States, prior to December 1 but not before October 16, to pay advances of up to 50 % for these direct payments.
Minister Coveney said the same provisions apply to agri-environment schemes as and from scheme year 2018, with the exception that pay advances of up to 75% may be made.
He said this schedule is the same as the current procedure whereby payments are made in two instalments, 75% and 25%, but not before October 16.
“It should also be noted that payments under the Area of Natural Constraints Scheme will move to this payment schedule as and from scheme year 2018. In the interim period, payments under the Area of Natural Constraints Scheme will continue to be paid in full from September of the scheme year, which is the earliest possible date for payments under this scheme,” he said.
The Minister confirmed with that regulations currently in place it is therefore not possible for the Department to spread farming payments under these schemes into instalments over a 12-month period.