Farmers got a much needed boost to cashflow this week with news that the EU has approved a 50% advance of the Single Farm Payment (SFP).
The certainty that over €600m will be paid on 16 October will ease farmer concerns and help to meet bills that have been mounting with merchants and co-ops as farmers struggle with difficult farming conditions.
The cash boost could have been greater, but the EU failed to agree to a request from Ireland for a 70% advance. Under EU rules, a 70% advance could only be approved across every EU member state.
The Commission explained that it was not possible to make that level of funding available across the EU.
The need for the advance was highlighted at the Teagasc mid-year outlook conference on Tuesday.
The State Research and Advisory body forecast that soaring feed prices and increasing fertilizer and energy prices will add to the tightening of margins caused by the weather.
Higher beef and lamb prices are shielding farmers who finish stock but falling dairy prices added to the weather woes will see income for the sector drop by 30%.
While cereal prices are surging, margins on tillage farms are in the balance and depend on improved weather conditions and harvest yields.
The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, confirmed that a 50% SFP advance would issue from 16 October, with balancing payments being made from 1 December.
"The benefit in making these payments six weeks earlier than under the existing rules of the scheme will be particularly beneficial after the difficulties caused for farmers by the adverse weather of the past months.
''My officials will do all that is needed to ensure the maximum number of applicants receive their advance payment at the earliest possible date," the Minister said.
Welcoming the EU clearance, IFA president John Bryan, said that farmers are disappointed that a 70% advance was not secured and Minister Coveney must insist that the case is re-examined.
He called on the Minister to ensure that the 50% advanced SFP be delivered in full from 16 October with payments made on for all inspection cases as well.
He said that payments under all schemes must be made on time to help ease cashflow problems on farms, which are now very difficult because of the significantly higher costs and lower prices.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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