All outstanding farm scheme payments must be made as a matter urgency in light of the current fodder crisis, IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has insisted.
Almost 70,000 farmers are awaiting outstanding payments worth €30m under GLAS and the Sheep Welfare Scheme.
The immediate payment of outstanding monies is one of a number of practical measures IFA has outlined to Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed that he should take to ease the burden on farmers and alleviate serious cash flow difficulties on farms.
Joe Brady said a number of payments are due to farmers, including €26m in 15% GLAS payments to 48,000 farmers and €3m in 15% Sheep Welfare Scheme payments to 21,000 farmers.
Joe Brady said the Sheep Welfare payments can be made from April 1st while GLAS payments are due next month so there is no reason they cannot be paid now.
In addition, Joe Brady said flexibilities are required in situations where the weather is making adherence to GLAS plans impossible.
In relation to the closed period for Traditional Hay Meadow, the closing date should be extended to the end of April. Flexibility should be provided in relation to other GLAS measures such as Low Input Grassland to ensure farmers can maximise any grazing opportunity.
Meanwhile, Joe Healy said Minister Creed has to implement further measures to support farmers immediately.
He said the fodder import scheme announced by Minister Creed must be open to all co-ops, licensed merchants and livestock marts.
“The Scheme must be inclusive of outlets who serve all farming sectors and all regions of the country,” he said.
“The Minister’s attempt to resuscitate his National transport scheme by reducing the minimum distance fodder has to travel from 100k to 50km before it will be eligible for a subsidy will not work.
“He should stop tinkering with restrictions and make the scheme a straightforward subsidy to all farmers in need of fodder.
“While it welcome that fodder is now coming into the country, easing the supply issue, some farmers have already spent huge amounts on fodder and will not have sufficient resources to purchase the imported fodder.”
Joe Healy reiterated his call on the Minister to suspend all on-farm inspections while the crisis is ongoing and to fast-track outstanding payments and remove any impediments either nationally or at EU level.
“Farmers are awaiting the final instalment of payments under GLAS and the Sheep Welfare Scheme worth €30m.
“The Minister should pay out this funding immediately, as well as payments under any other scheme owed to farmers.
“Releasing this funding would provide a badly-needed cash injection on farms at this difficult time, Joe Healy said.
Tillage farmers are under severe pressure to adhere to the three-crop rule under Greening requirements as very little sowing has been possible and time is running out to sow some crops, such as oats, beans and spring wheat. Joe Healy said the Minister must secure a derogation on the three-crop rule to ease the pressure on these farmers.