Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Claire Kerrane TD, has called on Minister McConalogue to provide answers on delays to Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) payments.
It was confirmed today that a cohort of farmers will not receive their ACRES payments until after Christmas. Payments for the scheme are due to start issuing before the Christmas break, and it remains unknown how many farmers may be affected by this delay or if those affected will be notified in advance of the payment date.
A further update this afternoon has also confirmed that ACRES Co-operation Project payments will be delayed until February.
Teachta Kerrane said:
“It is clear that the Minister and his Department is in disarray around making payments to farmers.
“In a year where we have had delays to a range of key farm payments, including the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS), Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) and Eco-Scheme, we are now hearing of delays to ACRES payments too.
“We also know thousands of BISS, ANC and Eco-scheme payments remain outstanding.
“On top of the reported delay to ACRES payments, I understand the Minister has not clarified how many farmers will be affected or whether they will be informed should their payment be delayed.
“This is wholly unacceptable. Farmers rely on farm payments and rightly expect their payments to be received on time for actions they have taken.
“In no other job would someone carry out work and be expected to wait for their payment. It should be no different for farmers, who have delivered on their side under the ACRES scheme.
“I understand that the Minister is expected to meet with farm organisations on this matter tomorrow.
“While this engagement is welcome, it is important that he provides answers on how he intends to address this issue.
“I have submitted a query to the Minister McConalogue to ask for further clarity on the extent of the issue and what actions he will take to avoid any delay in payments issuing.
“All ACRES payments should be made before Christmas as intended, and there is no good reason that the Minister and his Department cannot deliver on this.”