Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food & the Marine Charlie McConalogue says the ultimate litmus test of Budget 2018 will be the delivery of farm payments on time.

Fianna Fáil participated in a series of pre-budget discussions with government ministers to secure progress on a number of farm issues prioritised as part of the Confidence & Supply arrangement.

“Our party succeeded in getting increased ANC funding for Budget 2018. However, we will be closely monitoring how the increased funds will be delivered.  It is essential that money is channelled to those working on the most disadvantaged land”, said Deputy McConalogue.

“While I welcome the provision for two separate Brexit loan schemes for the agriculture sector, it’s important that the details of the criteria and rollout of the loan programme are announced without delay.  It’s essential that these schemes are not being used to kick the pressing issue of farm debt further down the road.

“I’m also pleased that the Government has finally woken up to the need for additional funding for Bord Bia as well as allocating more places for the Rural Social Scheme.

“However, it’s disappointing that there has been no movement on income tax averaging measures as proposed by farming organisations or increased suckler cow supports.

“The ultimate budget litmus test for Budget 2018 will be ensuring that the payment packages promised are actually delivered on time. The farcical situation of 2016 GLAS and AEOS payments being delayed 6 months into this year was a kick in the teeth for farmers who desperately rely on them.  It is essential that the Department gets its house in order so that farmers are not penalised for issues which are beyond their control”.