Cashflow problems will crop up on most farms at certain times of the year. The problem is most acute on cattle, sheep and arable holdings, where outputs from the business tend to be very seasonal in nature.
So, given these circumstances, why does the EU Commission not agree to the principle of making Single Farm Payments available in 12, monthly increments throughout the year? In fact, why not lump all of the support payments received by individual farm businesses into one pot, add up the total monies available and spread their payment out over the period of a calendar year?
Surely, given the amount of IT technology available to Brussels, the Department of Agriculture and the banks, an arrangement of this nature could be arrived at without causing undue stress and strain within any of the payment systems required to make all of this happen?
It is well documented that the banks like doing business with dairy farmers, due to the fact that producers have a monthly income, courtesy of their milk cheques. So, in the case of the other sectors why not have the proposed monthly support payments acting as ‘de facto’ milk cheques.
The reality is that EU support monies account for a vitally important component of every farm’s total income. Moreover, they represent a guaranteed funding stream, which ticks all the boxes with bank managers, accountants and the Inland Revenue.
A further benefit of this proposed approach is the fact that it does away with the perennial argument as to whether or not an advance of the Single Farm Payment should be made available. It would also ensure that farmers have access to a guaranteed income at times of acute crisis.
And, as we all know, emergencies of one form or another are now coming our way with concerning regularity. A case in point was the devastating impact of the 2013 fodder crisis, the implications of which are still fresh in the minds of many livestock farmers the length and breadth of Ireland.