The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., today announced the commencement of advance payments under the 2019 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) (including Greening).

The Minister said: I am happy to confirm that that advance payments under the BPS, worth €747 million to 114,500 farmers, have commenced issuing today. These payments are a vital support for farmers across the country and contribute greatly to maximising income and cashflow in the sector.

The Minister continued: A key priority for my Department is to issue payments to the greatest number of farmers possible at the earliest date allowed under EU legislation, subject to the necessary requirements of the Schemes being met. With this in mind, I also secured EU Commission agreement for a higher advance payment of 70% for 2019 rather than 50% as provided for in the EU legislation.

The Minister also commented that: compared to the advance payments made at this stage last year, an additional 1,500 farmers have received an advance payment in the first run of payments this year.  This represents an additional €15 million.  In all, some 94% of eligible applicants for the 2019 BPS are receiving their advance payment at the earliest date possible.  My Department continues to work to maximise the efficiency with which these payments are made to farmers, and I am very conscious of the importance that such payments have for farmers.

Payments under the 2019 Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme (ANC) also continue to issue as cases are cleared for payment.

Minister Creed added that: the advance BPS payment and the advance ANC payments taken together mean that some €932 million has now issued to Irish farmers in the last month.

The Minister reiterated his determination to ensure that payments to farmers are prioritized: I can assure farmers that payments will continue to issue under both schemes as individual cases are cleared, and regular pay runs will be in place over the coming weeks to ensure this.  Farmers who have been contacted by my Department with queries in relation to their applications should also respond at their earliest convenience in order to facilitate payment.

In order to facilitate farmers who wish to contact the Department in relation to their BPS or ANC payments, extended hours are now in place for the Direct Payments Helpline.  On Saturday 19th October, farmers can ring the Department at 076 106 4420 between 9.00am and 1.00 pm, while extended hours up to 8.30pm are also in place from Monday 21st to Wednesday 24th  October.

In conclusion the Minister stated: given the central importance of the many schemes currently in place, my Department has recently written to all farmers outlining the payment schedule over the coming months for these schemes. I am committed to ensuring that these payments continue to issue in the most efficient way possible to ensure that these vital supports are delivered to farmers in a timely manner.

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