Gildernew announces 2010 payments plan
Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has announced the timetable for payments to farmers over the coming year.
Outlining the timetable plans, the Minister said:
“I recognise the current financial difficulties that our farmers face and their reliance on Single Farm Payments (SFP) and I have been examining the scope that we have to bring payments forward as much as possible.
“In 2008 we paid out 80% of SFP claims by the end of December and we hope to do as well this year, as soon as the eligibility inspections are completed. For the second year in a row, we hope to pay Less Favoured Areas Compensatory Allowances (LFACA) early, possibly from January 2010 onwards. Additional LFACA payments for the 2007-2009 scheme years, to account for currency exchange rate movements, are also being finalised.”
The Minister added:
“Whilst the recent EU announcement that part payments of SFP will be possible is good news, their decision came too late in the year for us to take advantage. Primarily because we must still ensure that all eligibility inspections are completed before we can make payments. As my inspectors are all currently fully committed, it is not a realistic option to complete these inspections any earlier. In the meantime we are also working hard to complete the FNMS Inspections and get those payments out too.”
Looking forward to next year she said:
“I can now confirm that both the Countryside Management and the Organic Farming Schemes will open for new applications again in early 2010.”
The Minister concluded: “My goal is to achieve successful payment of all monies due to our farmers as quickly as practically possible. In light of this year’s timetable implications, I believe our approach to making 100% of SFP and LFACA payments is a better approach than trying to make part payments at this late stage.
“I have also asked my officials to consider carefully any future opportunities that may arise which offer any permissible relaxations in the rules, and we will work with UFU and NIAPA to see what more can be done.”
Note to Editors
- Each year, the department pays out £250million in single farm payments, another £21million in Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowances (LFACA), and £24.5million in Agri-environment Schemes.This year, it has also paid out over £100million out of the £122million claimed under the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme.
- DARD receives regular visits from both the Commission and the European Court of Auditors.These visits are to satisfy the European Parliament that the rules of the various subsidy schemes are being complied with and that beneficiaries receive their correct financial entitlement. Following an audit of SFP and other area aid claims for 2004, 2005 and 2006 the European Commission propose to disallow £28.5million of the north’s claim for reimbursement.
- The Department is seeking Commission approval to modify the LFA measure in the NIRDP to take account of the sterling rate envisaged when the NIRDP was approved. Exchange rate changes since 2007 have produced modest gains for many farmers. Details of individual amounts of exchange rate gains and interest due are being finalised.