Agriculture Minister must clarify whether the backlog in payments to farmers under REPS 4 are being processed? - BREEN.

January 29th, 2010 - Pat Breen

As news emerged last week that a New REPS Scheme has been given the Green Light in Brussels, with the finer details of the Scheme not yet outlined by the Minister, Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen has called on the Minister for Agriculture and Food Brendan Smith, to address the backlog in payments for farmers awaiting payment under REPS 4. Deputy Breen said that “many farmers are now in a desperate state with family incomes having fell by an 29% last year, he has questioned whether the sixty-three Technical Agricultural Officers who were upgraded to Supervisory Agricultural Officer are continuing to deal with the backlog in applications now that these assignments were terminated at the 31st December 2009.

“Having already ascertained last week, that 376 of the 2009 Reps 4 payments are still outstanding to Clare Farmers, Deputy Breen has revealed today, that nationally, the number of first year applications which have not been paid is 4806, while 3,560 of second year participants have not received payment under REPS 4.” (Source PQ’s see underneath)

Speaking today, Deputy Breen said that this is “totally unacceptable. The past year has been an extremely difficult one for farm families. Farm Incomes collapsed in 2009 by an estimated 29% and there cuts in the various Farm Schemes. This reduction in incomes is reflected in the fact that there was a 24% increase in the number of farmers seeking assistance under the Farm Assist Scheme in the past year.

“Many farmers are now in a desperate state and the delay in making these payments is placing further unnecessary stress and ann a desperate state with family incomes having fell by an 29% last year, he has questioned whether the sixty-three Technical Agricultural Officers who were upgraded to Supervisory Agricultural Officer are continuing to deal with the backlog in applications now that these assignments were terminated at the 31st December 2009.

“Having already ascertained last week, that 376 of the 2009 Reps 4 payments are still outstanding to Clare Farmers, Deputy Breen has revealed today, that nationally, the number of first year applications which have not been paid is 4806, while 3,560 of second year participants have not received payment under REPS 4.” (Source PQ’s see underneath)

Speaking today, Deputy Breen said that this is “totally unacceptable. The past year has been an extremely difficult one for farm families. Farm Incomes collapsed in 2009 by an estimated 29% and there cuts in the various Farm Schemes. This reduction in incomes is reflected in the fact that there was a 24% increase in the number of farmers seeking assistance under the Farm Assist Scheme in the past year.

“Many farmers are now in a desperate state and the delay in making these payments is placing further unnecessary stress and anxiety on farmers who are already under severe financial strain.”

“I understand that the situation is not helped by the fact that the Dept had assigned sixty-three Technical Agricultural Officers to higher duties of Supervisory Agricultural Officer to assist with the processing of REPS 3 and REPS 4 and I understand that these assignments were terminated by the 31st December 2009 in spite of the fact that there were still a sizeable amount of REPS 4 applications which have not been cleared. Are these Technical Officers continuing to deal with the backlog in applications or what is the situation?”.

“Whatever the case is, the Minister for Agriculture and Food Brendan Smith needs to get to grips with this situation, farm families are struggling and these payments must be expedited.”

ENDS.

See Parliamentary Question Replies Underneath For Your Information.

Parliamentary Question No.972

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of first year and separately the number of second years REP scheme four participants; the number of applications paid and or confirmed for payment up to 8 January 2010 in each category; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Pat Breen.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 19th January, 2010.

Ref No: 1834/10

REPLY

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: (Brendan Smith)
The information requested is set out in the table below.
Original application 2008 2009
Applicants 12,011 16,817
Paid 2008 11,490 not applicable
Paid 2009 4,765 8,325

Parliamentary Question No.973

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of technical agricultural officers upgraded to supervisory agricultural officers up to 31 December 2009 involved in the processing of REP scheme three and REP scheme four applications; the additional cost in wages per week per officer; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Pat Breen.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 19th January, 2010.

Ref No: 1835/10

REPLY

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: (Brendan Smith)

Sixty-three Technical Agricultural Officers were assigned to higher duties of Supervisory Agricultural Officer to assist with the processing of REPS 3 and REPS 4 applications. The additional cost per week per officer was €40 approximately. All these temporary assignments were terminated by 31 December.

Parliamentary Question No.974

To ask the Minister