CAP Payments For 2015 Have Been Made Says O'Neill

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced that payments under CAP schemes totalling £154million have been issued today.

Today marks the beginning of the payment period for 2015 CAP Schemes, with just under 18,000 payments to be issued on 1 December.

dn_screenAnnouncing that payments had commenced, the Minister said: “I am pleased to report that around 18,000 payments have been issued to farmers on Day 1 and will reach farmers’ bank accounts on Friday 4 December. After a very difficult year for the industry, this will make a significant difference to our farmers.

“This year has also been challenging for farmers and DARD with the introduction of a new set of schemes. I am happy that despite the complications and additional work this has brought, that the vast majority of farmers here will receive their new Direct Payments at this earliest possible stage.”

Minister O’Neill has set a target of processing payments to 95% of eligible applicants by the end of December, including the majority of cases which had been selected for inspection. Some of those selected for inspection by remote sensing will be among them. The Minister has also committed to paying all inspection cases by the end of March.

The CAP schemes being paid are the Basic Payment and the Greening Payment. Where a successful application for the Young Farmers’ Payment has been confirmed, this will also be paid. The payment made will incorporate deductions made under the financial discipline mechanism to provide funds for the 2016 EU Agricultural Crisis Reserve.

Noting that the increased number of applications submitted through DARD’s online system had allowed more claims to be processed earlier, the Minister added: “I hope that more farmers will recognise the benefits of applying online and help us to further improve on payment performance in the future.

“I would strongly encourage farmers to complete their claims online or ask their agent or form filler to do so on their behalf. There are in-built checks online which help to avoid mistakes, and the system speeds up payments to farmers overall. The contact telephone number in order to obtain the Government Gateway ID and password is 028 9442 6699 and my staff will be happy to assist farmers or agents who enquire.”

The 2015 Basic Payment Scheme payments will be paid using the exchange rate of €1= £0.73129.

Farmers will receive a payment letter at around the same time as their payment is credited to their bank account detailing when their payment has been calculated.

This year’s Basic Payment Scheme, Greening Payment and Young Farmers’ Payment will be worth around £236million to local farmers when payments are completed.

As the 2015 Crisis Reserve was not used, monies deducted under financial discipline from 2014 payments will be reimbursed to farmers. The reimbursement totals €3.47million and will be included in the total payment at a rate of 1.250045% on amounts due above €2,000. Therefore the net deduction for financial discipline is approximately 0.14% on amounts above €2,000.

The regulations require checks on all claims to verify eligibility and to assess the correct amount due before a payment can be made. Many of the cases that cannot be paid immediately, particularly those where information is outstanding to confirm the area declared is being farmed by the applicant, which have had on-farm inspections, have identified land eligibility concerns and changes to farm maps and therefore require investigation and more complex assessments. These take time to complete. In some cases a payment cannot be processed because the farmer has yet to provide bank account details or because probate is awaited.

DARD advised farmers should avoid telephoning Orchard House about their payments unless it is absolutely necessary over the course of the next few weeks. This frees up the maximum number of staff to work on getting payments out instead of taking time to investigate when specific payments might be made. If a call to Orchard House is unavoidable, callers should be patient, as phone lines are likely to be busy at peak periods.