Delays in paying out GLAS & AEOS payments putting Cork farms at risk

Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West, Aindrias Moynihan has said that it is inexcusable that over 1000 farmers in Cork 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.

“Some 3400 farmers across Cork have applied for a GLAS payment in 2016. 950 Cork farmers have yet to receive any of their 2016 payment despite having passed all the pre-payment checks.

“It’s unacceptable that they have received none of their payment yet, and Minister Creed must direct his officials to speed up the process.

“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.

“It seems to me that the processing of the AEOS scheme has been completely forgotten about. In 2016, just 271 applications from farmers in Cork have been processed and paid, yet the total number of applicants is many multiples of this.

“AEOS is an important agri-farming scheme, and one on which hundreds of farmers in Cork rely on heavily.  It’s clear that there are problems in the department, and farmers are being forgotten about.

“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 to be made which has thrown their budgeting into chaos.

“Local FG TD and 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 paying them means increasing 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.

“Farmers need to know when payments are due to be made and they need to have confidence that these payments will actually be made on time.

“The ongoing delays are a clear breach of the Farmers’ Charter of Rights which was agreed between the Department of Agriculture and farming organisations. Under this charter it was agreed that up to 75% of GLAS payments will commence by the third week of October, with the balancing payment being made in mid-December each year. It’s deeply disappointing that the Minister is not sticking to this agreement.

“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 Aindrias Moynihan.