Farmers have been informed previously by the Department of Agriculture of a significant change to payment dates in 2023, but for many the news is only now sinking in and possible implications coming to light. The confirmed, or target, payment dates across the main farm schemes included mainly in the CAP Strategic Plan 2023-2027 are detailed in the table and these dates have also been conveyed to farm organisations under the Farmers’ Charter. The big changes relate to the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) and the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS), which replaces the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). Payments under the ANC ,or what was previously known as the Disadvantaged Area Scheme, have become synonymous with the National Ploughing Championships in recent years.
It was a good news story released by the Minister for Agriculture and, as a result, the Department of Agriculture stand at the Ploughing was a hive of activity with farmers checking that their ANC and BPS payments are on target. This year’s ANC payment will be almost a month later, with payments commencing on 17 October 2023. The payment is 85% of the total payment and is normally a cash injection of €180-€190m in to the farming economy.
The larger BPS payments has commenced in recent years from the middle of October (typically 16 October), but this year will take place one to two weeks later. Advance payments under the BISS, which comprises over 60% of historic entitlement values, will commence from 24 October 2023, to applicants cleared for payment.
Farmers can check what payment they are due to receive in 2023 via their agfood.ie account. This can be viewed by entering the BISS portal from the agfood.ie homepage and then selecting ‘entitlement position’. Note this figure states the number of entitlements a farmer has at the start of 2023 and does not take account of pending transactions concerning the transfer of entitlements.
CRISS and Eco Scheme
Advance payments under the new Complementary Income Support for Sustainability (CRISS) will also commence on the same day. This payment is worth in the region of €43/ha and will be paid on a maximum of 30ha. The new Eco Scheme advance payment, which is expected to be in the region of €65/ha to €66/ha, will commence a week later, from 31 October 2023.
The Department’s CAP and livestock calculator (https://cap-calculators.apps.services.agriculture.gov.ie/) is a useful tool to allow applicants to get an idea of their level of payment in 2023. Alternatively, a farmer’s statement of entitlements can be used to determine the BISS payment, with the CRISS and Eco Scheme payments calculated separately.
The change in payment dates and the fact that many farmers will witness significant cuts to their payments through 85% convergence, may mean that farmers have to put alternative plans in place to manage cashflow and longer-term finances. Farm organisations and political representatives have become increasingly vocal this week, citing fears of family farm income being challenged greatly by the changes and possible trade disruption due to tighter finances and payment delays for services and inputs.
Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has previously stated that the above payment dates are ‘set in stone’ for 2023 and that he is committed to reviewing them for 2024, with a view to pulling them forward.
The target payment dates under the other main schemes listed in the table are in line with previous years for comparable schemes.
There are a number of other schemes where payments will be soon coming due, with the claims portal for the multi-species swards and red clover scheme remaining open until 29 September 2023. Claims for payment under the National Farm Safety Measure must also be submitted by the 29 September 2023.
Transfer of entitlements
There has been numerous reports of increased enquiries regarding the transfer of entitlements. Parties involved would normally have received correspondence by this stage of the year relating to their transfer request.
The Department issued a notice to advisers earlier this week, stating that letters will begin to issue from 5 September.
The Department states that the issuing of letters is being dealt with in the order of receipt and that “applications are being dealt with as quickly as possible and approval letters will continue to issue, as transfers are completed over the coming period”.
As such, farmers should not be alarmed if they do not receive a letter and hear of others receiving them.
The Department notice also asked that any request for additional information be addressed promptly to avoid delays in the final letter issuing and payment delivery. Queries can be sent to email@example.com.