Continuing delays to farmers’ Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) payments have been branded a “shambles” by Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) president Sean McNamara.
McNamara stated that the Department of Agriculture’s approach of announcing delays and missing revised payment deadlines cannot be allowed to happen again.
“Back in early December, we were informed that around 18,600 farmers would have to wait until February 2024 for their ACRES payments. Now it appears there will be a further delay. The whole thing is a shambles,” the farm leader commented.
Speaking on Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue’s announcement that interim payments issue to those still awaiting full ACRES payments, McNamara questioned why the move had not been made before 2023 ended.
“We have also been repeatedly told that innovative solutions were not possible when it came to resolving the ACRES issue, yet now we have one,” he said.
“Has the EU suddenly changed its rules or how has this been made possible? We also now need answers on when exactly the rest of the money will be paid.”
McNamara warned that Department payments keep cashflow steady on beef and sheep farms, with disruptions to payments causing “untold financial repercussions”.
“For most drystock farmers, scheme payments are what keeps their enterprises ticking over.
“They rely hugely on this money to cover bills, loan repayments and to pay for expensive winter feeding and all the other input costs.”