Sinn Féin spokesperson for Agriculture, Claire Kerrane TD, has welcomed the announcement of ‘interim’ ACRES payments, but has called on Minister McConalogue to address the many outstanding issues around payments under the scheme.
The announcement of interim payments to farmers still awaiting their advance payments for ACRES General and Cooperation Project (CP) streams was made by Minister McConalogue last Friday 9thFebruary.
However, while the Minister stated these interim payments would be made by the end of February, no detail was provided on how much farmers would receive or when the full advance payment can be expected.
Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“While it is welcome that some payment is being made for farmers still awaiting their advance ACRES payment, there are many outstanding issues remaining.
“The Minister has not clarified how much the interim payment will cover and so farmers currently have no idea what amount they will be receiving.
“Farm organisations, such as the IFA and ICSA have highlighted that the payment is much-needed. The INHFA have also stated that the interim payment should hit at least 80% of the totals due, and called on the Minister to deliver the payment within two weeks.
“As well as this, the Minister has not clarified why there has been such extensive delays to ACRES CP advance payments.
“Given he has promised since before Christmas that the full advance payment would be made by the end of February and the goalposts for this have now shifted, he should very clearly outline what is holding up the advance payments and when farmers can expect to receive the full amount by.
“As I have said before, farmers have held up their side of the agreement and have delivered their actions under ACRES. They should be paid for their work, and the Minister and his Department should communicate clearly on what is happening with the scheme.
“I have also been contacted by farmers who are concerned that how they will be taxed could be affected as a result of receiving two ACRES payments in one year. This is something I have raised with Minister McConalogue and Minister Donohoe, and it is another area on which they must provide clarity.
“This is not to mention recent updates regarding a potential ‘buffer zone’ around turbary areas on commonage land, which reports say could affect ACRES payments. That is something I have also sought update on from the Minister.
“Minister McConalogue must address these outstanding issues around ACRES payments immediately, and this is something I intend to push for clarity on.”