Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy has said farmers throughout Roscommon and Galway are being treated like second class citizens as the delays in the Department of Agriculture making payments under the GLAS and AEOS schemes are totally unacceptable.
Eugene Murphy has called on the Minister to intervene to relieve the financial pressure many family farms are under as a result of these delays.
The latest figures from the Department reveal that there are 388 farmers still waiting for their 2016 GLAS payments in County Roscommon while there are 1,235 farmers in County Galway in the same situation.
Some 389 farmers in County Galway have yet to receive their AEOS funds while 128 farmers in County Roscommon are also awaiting this payment.
Nationally the latest figures from the Department reveal that almost 9,000 farmers are still waiting for their 2016 GLAS payments, while there are over 2,600 farmers who have not received their 2016 AEOS funds. Deputy Murphy tabled a parliamentary question on the matter at the beginning of January while his Fianna Fáil colleague and party spokesperson on Agriculture Charlie McConalogue tabled a similar PQ at the beginning of February. Deputy Murphy noted that while the figures awaiting payment are slowly decreasing since January the pressure needed to be maintained to ensure that all remaining payments are made without delay.
A breakdown of the figures reveals that in County Roscommon some 1,551 farmers applied for GLAS I and 286 are still awaiting payment while some 566 farmers applied for GLAS 2 and 102 have yet to receive funds. In County Galway 3,144 farmers applied for GLAS 1 and 828 have yet to receive payment while 1,350 applied for GLAS 2 leaving 407 still unpaid. In County Leitrim some 282 farmers are still waiting for GLAS payments while 117 have still not received their AEOS funds. In County Longford 160 farmers are still waiting for GLAS payments and 33 have been left waiting for AEOS payments. In County Westmeath a total of 187 farmers have yet to receive GLAS payments and 45 are still waiting for AEOS payments.
Commenting on the issue Eugene Murphy said “I am seriously concerned about the delays in these payments. I am meeting with farmers every week who are at the end of their tether, as a result of the additional financial strain which has been placed on them as a result of the delays. These delays are totally unacceptable.
“Under the Farmers’ Charter, 75% of payment was due last October, it’s now February and we have a situation where 11,592 farmers are still waiting for their payments to be made. This is seriously threatening farm livelihoods, with many farmers having taken out loans, with the expectation that their farm payments would be made in October. They are now struggling to make repayments with the little income they’re making.
“Small family farms have taken a huge hit over the past number of years as a result of price volatility and cash flow problems and these delays are exacerbating an already difficult situation. Minister Creed’s excuse that these delays are down to an IT issue are not holding any water with farmers. This is funding that should have been paid months ago.
“This Government cannot continue to treat small farmers like second class citizens. The Minister needs to stand up for these farmers instead of hiding behind feeble excuses.
“This backlog of delayed payments needs to be cleared as a matter of urgency,” concluded Eugene Murphy.