‘Minister cannot stand over delayed payments’

IFA President Tim Cullinan said the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue “cannot stand idly by while his officials railroad through changes which will mean up to a month’s delay in some farm payments”.

The Department recently met with IFA and other farming associations to negotiate a new Farmers’ Charter and proposed to significantly delay payments for this year. These proposals were objected by the IFA who accuse the Department of writing to farmers advising of new payment dates in spite of this.

“The Charter process is based on mutual respect and officials at the meeting made no attempt to take on board the points made by the IFA delegation,” he said.

The IFA President said the workings of Charter meetings cannot be undermined by this approach and he said the Minister must intervene.

“We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister to address the situation and avoid a potential collapse in negotiations,” he said.

IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe, who led the IFA delegation, said an independent Chair to manage negotiations is needed.

Meanwhile, Rural Development Chair Michael Biggins said farmers, particularly those in the vulnerable sectors, simply cannot afford any delay in farm payments.