Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokesperson Éamon Ó Cuív has slammed Minister Simon Coveney for the huge drop off in expenditure in his Department this year. He has also hit out at the increased delays in CAP payments for farmers.
Deputy Ó Cuív explained, “The monthly exchequer returns for October show that gross expenditure in the Department of Agriculture is nearly €100 million behind target for the first 10 months of 2015. €75 million of this is current expenditure is as a result of the significant delays in direct CAP payments due to farmers under the basic payment scheme. The Capital Allocation is also running €20 million behind target for the first 10 months of year.
“The Minister’s failure to follow up on the applications processes for various schemes under his remit has resulted in €200m in delayed payments. Reports today reveal that over the past year there has been a 75% increase in outstanding basic payments to farmers. This is being compounded by the fact that there are 15,000 payments under the Areas of Natural Constraints scheme still outstanding.
“I am now calling on the Minister to expedite these payments to ensure that farmers can manage cash-flow and income volatility issues. Every day I and other colleagues receive calls from frustrated farmers, wondering when they will get their payments, informing us that they have not been told to-date of any difficulty with their payment. Many of them are under serious financial strain and are dependent on these payments to ensure that the bills are paid.
“Minister Coveney appears to have no understanding of the hardship that the delay in payments is causing. Time and again he has boasted of advancing payments. However, this is no good if large numbers of farmers receive no payment, due to minor queries on their applications.
“These latest figures highlight what I have being saying for a long time. There will likely to be a major underspend under the Rural Development Programme, which will become more apparent in the coming months. This untrustworthy government continues to leave farmers and rural communities behind. No spinning can untangle this”.