Around 100 farmers, including some from the North West, participated in an IFA organised protest outside the Department of Agriculture in Dublin yesterday, Tuesday, to highlight their anger over delays in payments to farmers for their participation in the GLAS agri-environment scheme.Under the scheme farmers are offered a payment for their work and contribution in preserving the environment.
Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Marc Mac Sharry, who attended the protest, has said that it is inexcusable that farmers this region are under severe financial pressure as a result of delays in processing payments under the GLAS agri-environmental scheme and the AEOS agri-environment options scheme.
“Many farmers are under severe financial strain at the moment as a result of delays in processing GLAS and AEOS scheme payments. These farmers were relying on the payments to be made in 2016 and had budgeted accordingly. Now they have to defer bills and vital farm upgrades because the money they were promised still has not been paid”, explained Deputy Mac Sharry.'Unacceptable'
“It’s unacceptable that so many farmers are still waiting on these essential payments. Minister Creed must direct his officials to speed up the process."
“Every day farmers are getting in contact with my office asking for assistance with this problem. Many of these farmers took out loans to carry out upgrade works on their farms with the knowledge that they would receive their GLAS and AEOS payments in a matter of weeks. Months later they are still waiting for these payments, and their budgeting plans have been thrown into chaos.
The Sligo-based TD continued, “The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has some serious explaining to do. His Department has continually struggled to meet deadlines associated with farm payments. It’s just not good enough that the Department, under his watch, has failed to process these payments. These payments are what, in many cases, are keeping farms afloat. Delays in payment increases the risk of defaulting on loans, and putting farmers out of business.
“Farmers are sick and tired of hearing about IT problems causing delays in payments. The Minister needs to stop blaming his Department’s IT systems, and focus on finding long-term solutions and ensuring farmers are paid on time.
“I’m calling on Minister Creed to immediately release these payments to ensure that farmers can deal with the pressing challenges that they face, such as volatility issues and cash flow problems,” concluded Deputy Mac Sharry.