Farmers facing payment delays

Hundreds of Northern Ireland farmers could be facing huge delays in their Single Farm Payments.

More than 800 farmers are currently seeking a review of the decision to reject their application on the grounds of not meeting the criteria.

This has resulted in the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) having to increase the number of staff handling the reviews.

TUV leader Jim Allister, in a written question to the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, sought an update in relation to the Single Farm Payment process.

His question was fourfold. Firstly he was seeking details of applicants turned down on an active farmer definition; secondly how many of those turned down were successful on review; thirdly of those still refused how many have lodged an appeal; and finally what is the anticipated timescale for these appeals.

The response from the minister stated: “European Commission Regulations require that beneficiaries of the Basic Payment Scheme must be able to demonstrate that they enjoy the decision making power, benefits and financial risks in relation to the agricultural activity on each parcel of land for which an allocation of entitlements is requested. This is known as the active farmer requirement.

“At present: (i) 1,638 applicants were assessed and found not to meet the requirement (ii) 10 of those applicants have, so far, been successful upon Review of Decision; (iii) 855 applicants have requested a Stage 1 Review of Decision; (iv) My Department has reassigned staff to process the high volume of Review of Decision applications and decisions are being issued as quickly as possible.”