Some €11.5m has been paid out to 2125 Longford farmers under advance payments of the 2018 Basic Payments Scheme, a Fine Gael Councillor has said.
Cllr Michael Carrigy said:"I am happy to confirm that advance payment under the BPS, work €11.5m to 2125 farmers, have commenced issuing earlier this week.
"These payments are a vital support for farmers across the sector in maximising cash flow and are particularly welcome at this time in light of the adverse weather conditions experienced on Longford farms this year.
"It is a key priority for Fine Gael to get these payments out to the greatest number of farmers possible at the earliest dates allowed under EU legislation, subject to the neccessary requirement of the Schemes being met.
"With this in mind, my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture secured EU Commission agreement for a higher advance payment of 70% for 2018 rather than 50% as provided for in EU legislation.
"Some 93% of eligible applicants for BPS have now been paid in this first tranche, and the success of our move to full online applications this year have helped us to develop further efficiencies in the processing of payments which are of direct benefit to the farmers.
"Payments under the 2018 Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme (ANC) also continue to issue as cases are cleared for payment," Cllr Michael Carrigy said.
Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed,said: The advance BPS payment and the ANC payments taken together mean that almost €935m has now issued to farmers in the last month.
"I have also secured and additional €23m for farmers in the ANC allocation for 2019, bringing the total budget for that Scheme to €250 million."
Cllr Michael Carrigy concluded: "I can assure farmers that payments will continue to issue under both schemes as individual cases are cleared, and regular pay runs will be in place over the coming weeks to ensure this. Farmers who have been contacted by my Department with queries in relation to their applications should respond at their earliest convenience in order to facilitate payment."
In order to facilitate farmers who wish to contact the Department in relation to their BPS or ANC payments, extended hours are now in place for the Direct Payments helpline.
For the period from the 17th to 27th October, farmers can ring the Department at 076 106 4220 between 9am and 8:30pm on weekdays and between 9am to 1pm on Saturday 20th October and Sunday 27th October.
The Minister confirmed that balancing payments under the 2018 BPS as well as payments under the Young Farmers Scheme and National Reserve are scheduled to commence issuing from the start of December, followed by payments under the coupled Protein Aid scheme.