Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has criticised Minister Creed for the ongoing delays in processing payments to farmers under the GLAS agri-environmental scheme.

Deputy McConalogue made the comments after receiving new information which shows that 10,100 farmers are still waiting for their full GLAS payments to be made.

Deputy McConalogue explained, “Farmers are rightly furious over the inexcusable delay in issuing the 2016 payments under the GLAS scheme. New information which I have obtained through a parliamentary reply shows that 10,100 farmers still have not received 85% of their 2016 payment.

“These farmers are at crisis point as a result of the delay in issuing payments. My colleagues and I are inundated with calls from frustrated farming families who are wondering when they will get their payments. Many of them are already under serious financial strain and urgently need these payments to ensure that bills are paid.

“It’s important to note that the ongoing delays are a clear breach of the Farmers’ Charter of Rights which was agreed between the Department of Agriculture and farming organisations. Under this charter it was agreed that up to 75% of GLAS payments will commence by the third week of October, with the balancing payment being made in mid-December each year. It’s deeply disappointing that the Minister is not sticking to this agreement.

“Minister Creed’s failure to promptly fix the logjam in processing payments for various schemes warrants an immediate review of the IT system in operation in his department. It is simply unacceptable that farmers who have applied for the scheme on time are still waiting for 2016 payments. We can’t allow this to simply become the norm for vital farm payments.

“GLAS is already on course for massive payments underspend. Fianna Fáil has exposed how the Government will leave many farmers high and dry with some missing out on payments of some €378m up until 2020. This is an appalling situation given the severe cash flow crisis facing farmers.

“I’m calling on Minister Creed to immediately expedite these payments to ensure that farmers can deal with the pressing challenges that they face, such as volatility issues and cash flow problems.”