– Minister failing to grasp the seriousness of the situation for small farmers –
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture and TD for Donegal Charlie McConalogue says the Agriculture Minister is leaving small farmers in the lurch by failing to ensure the speedy payment of GLAS and AEOS funding. Almost three months after payments were due, almost 500 farmers are still waiting for their funding to arrive.
The latest information supplied to Deputy McConalogue reveals that 305 Donegal farmers have still not received their GLAS payments, with a further 182 AEOS payments still outstanding.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “These payments were due in December, we are now more than half way through April and these farmers are still waiting. This is a ridiculous situation and the Minister appears to have washed his hands off it. Farmers are at the end of their tether but the Minister and his Department do not seem to be overly concerned by these extraordinary delays.
“Small family farmers are already under huge financial pressure and the fact that this funding has still not come through is adding to the strain. Many farmers had budgeted for this money and now they are either having to defer projects or take out expensive bridging loans. Either way, they are being severely penalised for a problem that is not of their making, and it is deeply unfair.
“These 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. This has clearly not happened, as farmers in Donegal are still waiting on their payments in mid-April.
“Minister Michael Creed has remained silent on this issue and it’s simply not good enough. So many farmers are dependent on these payments and their livelihoods are being threatened as a result of long delays.
“I am urging the Minister to intervene to ensure that these payments are made. Farmers have suffered enough over the past number of years and there is an onus on the Minister and the Department to ensure that the money due to them under GLAS and AEOS is paid out in a speedy and efficient manner”.