Everything Longford farmers need to know about their current position and Covid-19

Longford Leader Reporter

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Longford Leader Reporter

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Everything Longford farmers need to know about their current position and Covid-19

ICMSA has provided a comprehensive up-to-date report on how the Covid-19 crisis is impacting farmers in Longford and right across the state.

The Association is satisfied that these details are correct at time of writing but are happy to immediately work on behalf of individual members with problems falling outside these areas. In the first instance, Mayo members should contact their local Area Development Officer, John Gormley, at 087-1618213.

Organisation/Scheme                                                     

  • Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine BPS, ANC, Cross Compliance, TAMS and GLAS inspections - 
    Current position: Inspections continuing, Department staff will minimise farmer contact, those vulnerable or infected can defer inspection for up to 3 weeks in relation to TAMS and GLAS.  For Cross Compliance inspections, farmers who have an underlying condition,  elderly or have concerns can defer or nominate another person to stand in for them.
  • An Post - Current Position: Business as usual. Post will be kept free of charge in the local delivery unit if a business/home is not accessible. Post requiring signature – postman will sign on the scanner on your behalf, the scanner will not be handed to you.  
  • Ervia (Gas Networks Ireland and Irish Water) - Current Position: Business as usual. Urging customers to conserve water where possible, as there will be an increased demand on water for human health reasons.  
  • Bord Bia Inspections including SDAS and SBLAS -  Current Position:  All Audits suspended for 2 months and certification extended by 60 days.   Bord Bia will conduct audits for new applicants or re-applicants to the SBLAS and the SDAS where requested to by farmers.  
  • TB testing - Current Position: TB testing continuing,  If specific circumstances, contact your Regional Veterinary Office and tests can be deferred if farmer is vulnerable 
  • Irish farm plastics bring centres - Current Position: All closed. 
  • Meat Processors  - Current position: Meat plants operating as normal but Covid-19 protocols in place. Advice is to ring in advance and follow their instructions.  
  • Marts - Current Position: Some are closed, others are following strict protocols – check with mart in advance. 
  • BVD Programme - Current Position: Testing as normal – may be delays in test results. Farm organisations asked to assist farmers with the delivery of BVD samples and “white card” registrations. 
  • Milk Collections - Current Position: Continuing as normal but follow Co-op & HSE guidelines.
  • Illness Benefit - If you have been diagnosed with Covid-19, or are medically certified to self-isolate as a result of Covid-19, you can apply for Illness Benefit for Covid-19 absences paid at a rate of €305 per week.
  • Revenue Commissioner advise for Businesses - Tax Returns: businesses experiencing temporary cash flow difficulties should continue to send in tax returns on time. Application of Interest: the application of interest on late payments is suspended for January/February VAT and both February and March PAYE (Employee) liabilities.
  • Glanbia stores - Current Position: Now operating a call and collect service. 

Also read: Glanbia issue new 'call and collect' measures in a bid to combat Covid-19

Milk Collection 

Milk collection continues to go ahead with drivers and farmers expected to adhere to HSE guidelines in terms of social distancing and hygiene.  Co-ops have procedures in place to adhere to these guidelines. 

Cross Compliance Inspections 

Cross compliance inspections are still going ahead.  Farmers who have an underlying condition,  elderly or have concerns can defer or nominate another person to stand in for them.  

 Inspectors are advising farmers of the documents that are needed before the inspection, this is to ensure that minimum contact is needed and there is minimum contact in enclosed areas. Social distancing will be applied in all cases.  The Young Farmer inspection involves the most contact in terms of asking questions to determine if the YF is involved in the farm.

DAFM are advising common sense and if contact could take place outdoor or open sheds. Any inspection that is deferred will not result in that payment being processed until the inspection has taken place. 

Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme and Beef and Lamb Sustainable Scheme 

Bord Bia made the decision to postpone Quality Assurance Schemes audits for two months and extend the validity of current certificates where applicable for an initial period of 60 days.   

Such an extension scenario is already provided for within the standard. On the resumption of a regular auditing schedule, where an extension had been granted, the new certification validity period will start on the Certification Decision Date and run until the expiry date of the previous certificate plus 18 months, in accordance with procedure. 

 Bord Bia will conduct audits for new applicants or re-applicants to the SBLAS and the SDAS where requested to by farmers. Under the Quality Payment System, a bonus for in-spec cattle will only be paid if the cattle are also Quality Assured by Bord Bia. Bord Bia recognises the economic importance to farmers of receiving this bonus and wishes to continue to assist farmers in joining the scheme where possible during the Covid-19 pandemic.   

Farmers who have requested to be audited as new members are advised to increase their biosecurity measures and follow HSE advice to mitigate against the risks of contracting or transmitting Covid-19. Auditors visiting their farms have been issued with bio-security guidelines by Bord Bia. 

 Illness Benefit 

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are medically certified to self-isolate as a result of COVID-19, you can apply for Illness Benefit for COVID-19 absences paid at a rate of €305 per week. This is available to employees and the self-employed including farmers.

How to Apply 

If you are suffering from COVID-19 or a doctor advises that you self-isolate, the doctor will then complete a medical certificate on your behalf and send this directly to the department. 

To receive a payment, you will need to provide your doctor with your: 

  • Name
  • PPS Number
  • Date of birth 

You now need to complete an application form for Illness Benefit (Form IB 1). 

There are three ways that you can make an application: 

  • You can call 1890 800 024 or 01 2481398 between 9.00am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday to get an application form by post
  • Organise someone to pick up a form at your doctor’s surgery or at your local Intreo Centre
  • An online application process will be available by the end of March 

Send your application form by Freepost to: PO Box 1650, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Dublin 1 

Once both the application form and the medical certificate are received payment will be processed. 

 To be eligible for this payment a person must be confined to their home or a medical facility. 

Revenue Commissioner advice for Businesses 

Revenue has provided the following updated advice which will further assist businesses that are experiencing trading difficulties caused by the impacts of COVID-19. 

Information for SMEs    

  • Tax Returns: businesses experiencing temporary cash flow difficulties should continue to send in tax returns on time.
  • Application of Interest: the application of interest on late payments i rs s suspended for January/February VAT and both February and March PAYE (Employe) liabilities. 
  • Debt Enforcement: All debt enforcement activity is suspended until further notice.
  • Tax Clearance: current tax clearance status will remain in place for all businesses over the coming months. 

Revenue will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation regarding COVID-19 and will issue further updated guidance for businesses when required and particularly in good time before the March/April VAT returns, and other future returns are due. 

ICMSA President, Pat McCormack, confirmed the Association is continuing to work on behalf of its family farm membership and he urged farmers with any specific problems to contact their aread development officer in the first instance or email info@icmsa.ie.

Also read: 'Supermac's and McDonald's cannot be used as an excuse for beef cuts'