Balancing payments to around 20,000 ACRES farmers have been delayed, as ongoing computer problems continue to dog the beleaguered environmental scheme.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue announced yesterday that €21.1m in balancing payments will commence this week to almost 26,700 farmers.

However, the remaining 20,000 farmers – who are primarily in the ACRES co-operation stream – will be paid on a rolling basis over the coming months. This latest delay is certain to spark furious criticism from the farm organisations, who have lambasted the Department of Agriculture’s handling of the scheme.

It is understood that manual inputting of commonage scores on to the Department’s computer system is the main reason for the delay.