Imagine if it were announced on the news that wages to all 60,000-odd teachers in Ireland would be a few weeks late in September and October. There would be war.

But there seems to be little coverage of the fact that the Department of Agriculture is proposing to push ANC payments, normally made in the second half of September, into October.

A similar delay for the advance payment of the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS), which normally lands as soon as the EU’s fiscal year commences on 16 October, is proposed.

It has been opposed by farmers, with the IFA walking out of the Charter of Farmers’ Rights talks with the Department.

The ANC delay is being blamed on the introduction of the Automated Monitoring System (AMS), which introduces 100% eligibility checks via satellite.

The BISS/CRISS/eco-scheme delay is because of the sheer complexity of the new?schemes.

Yes, it’s true that direct payments are public money support for private individuals, not wages. They are paid out in exchange for properly complying with the complex BISS system.

But it’s also true that for drystock farmers, that is most farmers, direct payments make up most of the year’s income. It’s literally their bread-on-the-table money.

Delays can mean missed repayments, and with banks throwing farmers whose loans become impaired to the vulture funds, that’s a problem.

One of the reasons farmers are so dependent on direct payments is because the CAP-controlled evolution of food production, combined with the absolute absence of any equity or transparency in the food chain, denies them a decent margin.

The food supply chain legislation going through the Dáil this week is hoping to address that, but it’s 15 years late.

That is not this minister’s fault. He has finally delivered what Mary Coughlan, Brendan Smith, Simon Coveney and Michael Creed all promised. But it is important that he maintains the standard that all of those ministers set, which has seen Ireland consistently the best EU country at delivering direct payments to farmers on time.

There is a simple solution. Make the payments at the normal time, and apply any penalties that the comprehensive inspection system reveals to the second tranche of the payment.

Only a handful of farmers will be penalised more than the 40% paid in December. After all, if Gerry Hutch and Alec Baldwin are innocent until proven guilty, why should 120,000 BPS applicants not be afforded the same consideration?