I sent a note regarding the payments hold-up to the Department last November as per below:

I recognise that expenditure of public money must be governed by due diligence and appropriate systems. I am sorry to say that after 40 years of experience on a Kerry farm, the system has gone from bad to worse.

For nearly 10% of farmers, they must endure endless torment, each year, with their livelihoods put on a knife edge.

When the first area-based payment scheme came in, the system worked well enough because a local inspector could come out to qualify any anomalies. The Department was doing the satellite mapping.

Later the satellite mapping was put out to private tender and a company in Cork was awarded the contract. This company was subsequently sold. In recent years, like others, my payments have been delayed, on a number of occasions.

For small farmers in particular, the impact of delayed payments, especially at this time of year, causes intense cash-flow problems, which impact on their credit and on their ability to pay contractors.

I should explain that my farm is on a slope running down to a wetland by dunes and the river.

Each year I create new habitat on my farm and experiment with new crops.

Delayed payment

One year, my payments were delayed because the satellite analysis concluded I had over claimed by 0.06 ha in one field and under claimed by 0.06 ha in a neighbouring field.

Any human being would reasonably conclude that this was a satellite error.

When an error was flagged this year, I duly did what I was asked. I downloaded the AgriSnap app and photographed the field and did the upload. The field in question had hemp and flax in two declared plots.

I duly received my ANC payment. On receiving this payment, I promised to pay my contractors, as soon as the BISS payment came in, but lo and behold it did not arrive.

When I finally got through to a member of staff, I was informed that my maps were sent off for re-digitalisation for an area of 0.07 ha.

You will understand at this stage that I am totally demoralised by the system, but rather than dwell on its many faults, I would like to offer a couple of simple suggestions.

All payments should be split, and therefore there is no necessity to hold up the first tranche, as any discrepancy could be rectified in the second payment.

Department staff would also benefit from this, as it must be very hard on them answering all the queries.

As all farming organisations are expressing outrage at this stage over the policy and procedures of the Department, I would like to ask them all to call for a judicial review, which in my opinion is warranted. Can all the farm bodies please do this jointly?

I am sure that the Agricultural Consultants will back this too, as the whole bureaucratic system is failing everyone.