Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Sligo-Leitrim Cllr. Eamon Scanlon says long delays in the payment of farm subsidies are putting an extra financial burden on farmers in the North West and he’s calling on the Agriculture Minister to ensure that these payments are made without delay.
New figures released to Fianna Fáil reveal a significant fall in expenditure in the Department of Agriculture this year, with spending almost €100m behind gross expenditure targets for 2015.
Cllr. Scanlon explained, “Hundreds of farm families across Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Cavan depend on these farm payments to keep their businesses going and these lengthy delays are putting them under severe pressure. The statistics show the Department of Agriculture’s spending substantially behind target – to the tune of almost €100m. This has come about as a result of delays in CAP payments and is the source of much frustration and anger among farmers in the North West.
“Farmers are heavily reliant on these payments and many incorporate the timing of the grants into their cash flow budgets. The lengthy delays in the payment of these subsidies is posing significant financial problems for farmers. Not only are the CAP payments delayed, there are more than 15,000 payments under the Areas of Natural Constraints scheme outstanding and the Capital Allocation is around €20m behind target.
“Minister Simon Coveney has failed to get to grips with this problem. His lack of understanding of Agricultural issues is telling and the fact that he has allowed the delays in payments reach these levels is unacceptable. Farmers across the North West, and around the country, are paying the prices for his mismanagement. The Minister brought in a raft of changes to a wide range of agriculture schemes, but failed to put in the resources to ensure that the more stringent applications processes could be processed in a timely manner. The result of this major oversight has been these significant backlogs.
“Farmers are angry with the Minister, they feel as if he has not listened to their concerns and now they’re paying the price. Many farmers are already under severe financial pressure and the combination of lower and delayed payments is adding to an already stressful situation. Minister Coveney needs to take charge of the issue and ensure that these delays are properly tackled. It is imperative that these payments are not delayed any further and I am urging him to intervene and ensure these farmers are paid”.