Gildernew announces four out of five farmers will receive payments in December
Minister Michelle Gildernew, MP MLA, has announced that 82% of 2008 Single Farm Payments will be paid in December.
The Minister stated that the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's aims to complete 80% of payments before Christmas, 82% by the end of December and 87% by the end of January 2009.
Confirming her plans she said: "This year again, more farmers will receive their payments earlier than ever before. My department is working continuously to improve its processing systems and has once again set challenging targets in relation to the payment timetable. These latest targets mean that the number of payments made before Christmas will have increased by 1,900 over the last two years."
From 16 October 2008, the EU rules have required DARD to make payments electronically into the bank account nominated by individual farm businesses. The Minister noted that: "To help my department meet these targets, it is essential that any farm business that has not yet provided their bank account details to my department does so immediately so that any payment which may be due to them can be processed."
EU rules permit payments to be made only when eligibility has been fully established. Thus not all claims can be paid immediately. In some cases no payment may be due because of ineligibility or the application of penalties under scheme rules. Explaining this issue, the Minister said: "All possible steps are being taken to ensure that the remaining claims are paid at the earliest possible date. As in 2007, mapping changes are being identified by on-farm checks. Where these area changes are effective from earlier years, entitlements allocated in 2005 and payments made for previous years may have to be adjusted before the 2008 payment can be calculated. These calculations are complex and take time to work through."
The remaining queries on claims are being followed up with farmers where necessary but in many cases the query can be sorted out from information held on the Department's records and without having to contact individual farmers. The payment targets for February 2009 onwards will be published in late January 2009.
To enable the department to maximize the number of payments during December, farmers are asked to phone Orchard House only if absolutely necessary. Where it is necessary to contact Orchard House, callers should bear in mind that phone lines may be busy at peak periods.