Minister rules out advance of 2012 SFP
IN light of the continuing bad weather Irish Farm Minister Simon Coveney has confirmed that he is seeking approval from the EU Commission for the advance payment of the 2012 Single Farm Payment (SFP).
However, Farming Life has been informed that such an option will not be a runner when it comes to helping hard-pressed farmers in Northern Ireland.
Farm Minister Michelle O’Neill said that DARD is not in a position to introduce advance payments in the current circumstances.
She explained: “Under EU Regulations, Single Farm Payments, including advance payments, can only be made when all administrative and land eligibility checks are complete.
“The department remains focussed on improving its systems for administering SFP to accelerate the processing of payments in future, particularly in regard to inspection cases. Our objective during 2012 is to improve the speed at which administrative and eligibility checks are completed. A number of significant changes have already been made and we are working towards making as many payments as possible when the payment window opens in December 2012.
“Changes made to date include earlier commencement of land eligibility inspections and the introduction of the use of satellite imagery. We are also working with farmers to increase the use of on-line applications as these reduce the scope for error and accelerate the processing of claims.
“In the longer term we would like to see greater flexibility on the timing of payments to applicants. As part of the CAP reform process we have asked that it should be possible to pay individual applications when all checks on that application have been finalised without, as at present, having to wait until all checks on all applications have been finalised.”
Meanwhile, in Dublin, Simon Coveney is making it clear that he regards the SFP as a flexible support tool.
“The Single Farm Payment is a very significant part of the annual income of farmers in Ireland. It is an essential part of the cash-flow of farmers and underpins the running costs of many farming enterprises,” he explained.
“In some cases the SFP is greater than net farm income. I am also acutely aware of the significance to the wider rural economy of the Single Payment. There are real financial benefits for the rural economy in making these payments six weeks earlier than otherwise provided for under the rules of the scheme.”
“It is clear, the timing of this payment is extremely important to farmers, particularly those on low incomes, to maintain their cash flow and to allow them to pay bills at the due time”.
The Minister added: “I believe that there is a strong case for an Irish submission due to the importance of direct payments as an income support to the farming sector and to reduce economic vulnerability and I will press very hard for a positive outcome that will allow payments to be made from 16th October instead of 1st December”.
The Minister confirmed that if his application is approved, his Department would commence payment of 50 per cent of the 2012 Single Payment Scheme in all cleared cases with effect from 16th October, with the balancing payments being made from 1st December.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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