Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, to properly explain why payments made by his Department are running €96 million behind target as of the end of October.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented: “It is clear that the Department of Agriculture is considerably behind their own targets in making payments to farmers.
“This year we had some of the worst weather conditions in living memory, which lasted up to the first week in June. It placed huge pressure on farmers, particularly financial pressures, in terms of purchasing feedstuffs and it is amazing that the Department of Agriculture has been so tardy in making payments to farmers. The €96 million that is being held back from farmers would make a very significant difference to them.
“The response today from the Minister that farmers will be paid by the end of the year is completely inadequate. Farmers need the money now and the ‘Live Horse and You’ll Get Grass’ mantra is not good enough.
“No proper explanation has been given by the Minister for the delays in payments and I now call on him to immediately pay this money to farmers, to ease the credit squeeze as well as the many suppliers and merchants who have provided extended credit to farmers.
“One would have thought that this year, in view of the pressure on farmers, that payments would be running ahead of target and that the Minister would be ensuring that every euro possible is paid to farmers as early as possible.
“This Minister has a poor record in relation to managing payments from his Department, with over €200 million of an under spend during his first year in office and now this year payments are running €96 million behind target.”