Fine Gael Agriculture Spokesperson Michael Creed has highlighted the major backlog in REPS 4 payments to farmers participating in the scheme. Speaking after it was revealed that out of the 548 participants in the scheme who applied in late 2007, 117 are still awaiting payment for almost three years later. Deputy Creed said;
“Over 21% of REPS 4 applicants who subscribed to the scheme in the period between September and December of 2007, are still desperately awaiting payment six months into 2010. This situation is exacerbating an already critical cashflow situation at the farmgate”.
“The Minister attributes this delay to a Computer glitch in his Department. The Minister stated that the “REPS computer system requires some modification before the outstanding payments can be released”. This poor excuse will carry little weight with farmers who have been waiting almost three years for their funding”. “The past twelve months have been a turbulent for farmers with the average farm income collapsing by 30%. This situation has not been helped by the failure of the Government who have continuously cut farm gate schemes in successive budgets. The Ministers failure to ensure payment of REPS 4 on time merely adds fuel to the fire of financial difficulty”.
“Minister Smith must now take personal responsibility to ensure the outstanding payments are issued as swiftly as possible. Many farmers are struggling to get information from the Department on why their payment has been delayed. The very least participants in REPS 4 should expect is a straight answer as to why they haven’t been paid, and when they will be”.