Fianna Fáil Sligo Cllr Jerry Lundy, says over 400 farmers in Sligo may have been waiting since last September to receive payments under the Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS) and has called on the Minister for Agriculture to immediately ensure all outstanding monies are paid in a number of different schemes.
The most recent figures available reveal that of the 4,065 applications for the DAS in Sligo, 425 had not yet received payment by April.
“It is a disgrace that 425 farmers in Sligo have been waiting so long to receive monies they are owed from the Department of Agriculture,” said Cllr Lundy.
“The delay has been caused by the retrospective stocking density requirement that was imposed by the Minister last year; it saved virtually no money and managed to add an extra layer of bureaucracy to the scheme for both farmers and the Department.
“Last year’s terrible summer and the artic conditions in the winter and spring have led to a fodder crisis for farmers; many are now depending on their DAS payments and the delay in receiving this is causing huge distress.
“There have also been huge delays in other farm payments including AEOS, REPS and beef discussion groups which are crippling farmers.
“I am urging Minister Coveney and local Minister John Perry to take notice of this crisis and ensure these overdue payments are made. We are still awaiting the Taoiseach to appoint a junior Minister in the Department of Agriculture. It is scandalous not to have a junior minister in the Department considering the profound fodder crisis in Sligo and the North West.
“Immediate action is necessary to ensure the outstanding payments are processed without delay. I have been disappointed by the lack of urgency displayed by the Government TDs throughout Sligo and the North West in exerting pressure on the Minister to speed up payments. Many farmers are in distress through a combination of factors but swift payment of their entitlements will go some way to ease the pressure they are under.”