Fianna Fáil Agriculture and Food Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue has criticised Minister Creed for the continual delays in 2016 payments to farmers under the agri-environmental schemes GLAS and AEOS.

“While the Minister has been on a Gulf region trade mission this week, the hot temperatures there fail to compare to the boiling anger of farmers who have been waiting nearly five months now for 2016 payments. The excuses are wearing thin.

A recent parliamentary reply received on March 2nd shows that when compared with the number of farmers who were awaiting delayed payments a month earlier, a staggering 70% of the outstanding 2016 GLAS payments remain unpaid.

“The figures are even worse for outstanding 2016 AEOS payments with 79% still unpaid. This is a wilful neglect of farmers up and down the country who desperately rely on these payments to keep their head above water.

“Every day, my colleagues and I, receive calls from frustrated farmers, wondering when they will get their payments. Many of them are under serious financial strain, urgently needing these payments to ensure that the bills are paid.

“Ongoing delays are a clear breach of the Farmers Charter Payment agreed between the Department and farming organisations. Under this, it was agreed that up to 75% of GLAS payments would commence in the third week of October, with the balancing payment being made by mid-December.

“It is simply unacceptable that 6,235 GLAS and 2,065 AEOS payments have yet to be made to farmers. These farmers applied on time to these schemes.

“The Government have simply failed to respond with urgency and efficiency to their applications.

“I’m calling on the Minister to immediately address Oireachtas Agricultural committee members on the excessive delays and to expedite these payments,” concluded McConalogue.