Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth says the Agriculture Minister has lost touch with ordinary farmers and is urging him to ensure that payments due under Rural Development Programme schemes are made without delay.

New figures released to Fianna Fáil reveal the RDP underspend for 2016 now stands at €204m.

Deputy Smyth explained, “I have been contacted by farmers who are at the end of their tether coming up to Christmas.  They had been expecting payments under a number of schemes but to date they haven’t materialised.  This is putting them under serious financial pressure and is deeply unfair.  Many of them had factored these payments into their budgets and now the bills are coming in and these farmers have been left high and dry.

“Minister Creed has serious questions to answer regarding the underspend for the RDP is so large.  He has confirmed that €204m of funds under the RDP remains unspent – this represents 42% of the overall agriculture budget for the year.

“The fact that the Minister has failed to move on this issue, despite my party raising it time and time again, highlights how out of touch with ordinary farmers he has become.  Minster Creed must give a guarantee to farmers that their payments will be made before the end of the year.

“Farmers across Cavan and Monaghan urgently need these payments to allow them deal with the pressing challenges in managing their cash flow and investing in vital equipment upgrades.”