The european Commission has agreed to allow farmers to receive half of their single farm payment in October, instead of December, because of the bad weather conditions.
This means Irish farmers will receive about €650 million some six weeks earlier than usual.
The payment is made in return for compliance with environmental and animal welfare standards. Direct payments accounted for 73 per cent of overall farm income in the State last year.
The decision was welcomed by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and farm organisations.
Mr Coveney said he had originally sought the 50 per cent advance, but last week he asked the EU commissioner for agriculture for a 70 per cent advance, given the worsening weather conditions.
“The commissioner had committed to looking at a 70 per cent advance but was unable to grant it due to budget constraints,” Mr Coveney said.
The commission’s direct payments management committee said 10 member states had requested an advance on payments, including Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. The derogation will allow the advance to be paid from October 16th onwards, rather than December 1st.
Irish Farmers’ Association president John Bryan said Mr Coveney must insist the advance payment is delivered in full from October 16th. Farmers were disappointed a 70 per cent advance was not secured and they encouraged Mr Coveney to insist the case be re-examined.
“An advance payment of 50 per cent will help ease cashflow problems on farms, which are now very difficult because of the significantly higher costs and lower prices,” Mr Bryan said.
Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association president John Comer also encouraged the Minister to renew his efforts to secure 70 per cent. “He must also turn his attention to the question of persistent delays in other payments due and the application of inspections and regulations in light of the terrible conditions on the ground,” he said.
Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association president Gabriel Gilmartin said there would be sighs of relief from farmers on hearing the news: “Farmers are facing astronomical increases in feed costs for the rest of the year as a result of the bad weather, the full impact of which is yet to be seen.”
Mr Coveney said he wished to assure farmers that his officials would do everything to ensure the maximum number of applicants received their advance payment at the earliest possible date.
The wet weather in June and July has caused severe difficulties for farmers, particularly in silage-making. It has also forced some farmers to rehouse animals and buy feed at a time when cattle would normally be eating grass.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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