Advance payments under the 2012 Single Farm Payment scheme will go ahead next Tuesday as scheduled, said Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney.
More than 105,000 cases have been cleared for payment in the first run. The advance payments will continue to be issued until Nov 30, with balancing payments starting on Dec 1.
Mr Coveney said: "I am particularly pleased that these payments, worth well over half a billion euro, are going out on time. It will be recalled that, earlier this year, mindful of farmers’ cash flow, and particularly mindful of the very adverse weather endured, I approached the EU farm commissioner and got approval to make these payments earlier than provided for under the regulations."
He said these SFP payments are being made six weeks earlier than would otherwise be the case.
"While payments are continuing to issue as cases become clear, I would urge anybody who has received correspondence from my department, highlighting problems in relation to their application, to respond without delay as, by doing so, those cases can then be processed to finality and payments issued," he said.
He noted these payments follow the payments under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme.
"To date, some €167m has already been paid out under DAS to 76,000 farmers. I can assure farmers that payments will continue to issue under both schemes, after the initial payments occur, as individual cases are cleared. My aim continues to be to maximise payments to farmers at the earliest possible date, subject to the necessary requirements of the schemes being met."
Meanwhile, farmer groups have repeated their calls for an early payment and an information update on the EU’s agri-environmental payment scheme AEOS. The principal concern being expressed by farmers is that the scheme will amount to a markedly smaller payment than they had been receiving under REPS, which AEOS is replacing.
Dairy and sheep farmer group ICSA said the new €20m scheme’s maximum payment of €4,000 does not constitute real support.
ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said: "The scheme announced today simply will not fill the gap left by the closure of REPS. In particular, the maximum payment of €4,000 is simply not enough to allow farmers to achieve the targets of the scheme. Environmental measures are considered to be of ever-increasing importance at EU level, so I am extremely disappointed that the department has not seen fit to put a meaningful support scheme in place to facilitate farming to a high environmental standard."
Patrick Rohan, chairman of ICMSA’s farm services and environment committee, has also called on the department to publish the terms and conditions of the new AEOS scheme. He said the ICMSA has requested a meeting with the department to get clarification on the details and also to ensure the payment of REPS as soon as possible.
ICMSA believes the new scheme must be simplified and that many farmers are experiencing difficulties with payments from the current schemes due to receipt complications.
Mr Rohan said: "We are extremely disappointed with the level of payments in the existing AEOS scheme and we believe that AEOS will not prove to be a suitable replacement for REPS for the many thousands of farmers who were in REPS for many years and who are committed to environmental farm practices."
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