Chaos over unexplained Delays in Disadvantaged Area Payments – Conway-Walsh
There is absolute chaos over the unexplained delays in farmers receiving the Disadvantaged Area Payment or what is now known as the Area Natural Constraint Payments (ANC) according to Sinn Féin Candidate Rose Conway-Walsh. While some farmers were paid out many were not. No explanation is given to these farmers as to why they have not received their payments. There is obviously not enough staff in the Department to answer phones or deal with the high volume of telephone calls. This must be rectified immediately.
Speaking at the Irish Natura Hill Farmers Association meeting in Westport this week Cllr. Conway-Walsh said:
“I have been inundated with calls from farmers who have not received their A.N. C. Payments which began last week. This year has seen the lowest % of farmers paid for this scheme by the due date.
The Minister and his colleagues have stated they are taking measures to alleviate the burden on farmers in this bad year. One of the actions is to pay out 75% of Single Payment in October. However if a farmers file is not clear for payment of A.N.C. he will not be clear for Basic Payment.
The delay in payments seem to relate to small over claims arising on farmers’ maps. In the past the Department system could overide these small over claims and payments would issue. However due to a change in the Department System this year the over claims, however small, have to be processed and letters issued to farmers before files can be cleared.
The other main issue is the ongoing monthly calculation of stock levels which is 0.3 livestock units for 7 consecutive months over the 12 month period or 0.15 livestock units for 12 months. Farmers will not get paid out until they have reached the required length of time.
Also where a commonage is concerned it takes just 1 farmer to over claim on his share to hold up his fellow shareholders.
Cllr Michael Holmes proposed at the meeting in Westport that it should be mandatory for the Department to send out a written communication to all farmers not approved for payment at the same time as those who have been passed for payment. I completely agreed with this proposal as the least that can be done is keep these farmers in the picture as to when they are going to get paid.
The Minister needs to step in and sort out this technical issue and allow payments to flow and it is mostly affecting farmers along Western seaboard. Farmers and Department staff are at their wits end with jammed phone lines and no money.”